I would never use a bread machine. This is no judgment on you who have one, except to say you’re missing the best part. It’s the kneading that satisfies. There’s something about tilting the bowl with my left hand and then working the loose materials with my right, until they form a cohesive mass of dough, that is some kind of balm to my soul.
Five minutes to rest, and then it’s time to split that dough in half and plop each half onto an aluminum pizza pan, first covered with a sprinkle of miniature ball bearings (cornmeal) for easy removal of the pizza later.
My hands gently flatten the mound and begin to work the dough out toward the rim of the pizza pan, slowly and gently so as not to tear the dough or form too-thin uneven places. I gradually turn the pan with my left hand, pushing and stretching the dough to its edges. It can’t be rushed.
Lovely. And ready for a spread of olive oil, parmesan, broccoli, chicken, tomato slices, and mozzarella.
This is how God works righteousness into our lives.
Sit on this thought: the dough never starts at the edges. It always starts as an unbecoming lump in the middle of the pizza pan. That is us, when we first come to Jesus–unbecoming lumps.
Then he begins to press and push–turning, turning, turning our lives– working his righteousness out toward the edges of every single part of us. Can’t be rushed. His goodness starts to stretch out into how we spend our money. It stretches into our relationships. It stretches into what we choose to eat and how we cook our food. It stretches into the way we spend our weekends. Stretches into our attitudes toward housekeeping. His hands turn our lives a bit more and spread goodness into our work ethic and out toward the way we treat people at the grocery store and in line at a red light. Stretches us toward thankfulness. Stretches us toward sharing our stuff. Stretches us toward grace and forgiveness.
But the dough never starts at the edges. First there is Jesus and our hope that if we come to him, he can do something with a sticky lump. He can get all the areas of our lives in order.
So, we come to Jesus in humility and pray this prayer: stretch us out toward righteousness, Lord, for your name’s sake. (A gluten-forward version of Psalm 23:3.)