A Boy and a Babka

June 18, 2018 by Amy Shatrick

The aroma of freshly-baked bread is one of the most irresistible smells in the world. Throughout the baking process, our noses are tickled with the earthiness of the yeast as it icombines with simple ingredients like flour, salt, and water. It is truly awe-inspiring when these four pillars of bread-making are mixed and baked. When the baker practices his craft, a home becomes a French boulangerie, a simple coffee shop a haven, and fresh pitas transform an inner city block into a Moroccan bazaar. When my son Ben and I decided to make chocolate babka, we stepped into the amazing, and sometimes challenging, world of bread-making with a lot of hope and a pinch of trepidation.

According to Aly Miller of The Nosher, “Babka is a dense (egg) bread that is swirled with chocolate or cinnamon, and often topped with cinnamon sugar streusel.” Ben and I were captivated by the idea of making and eating this traditional Eastern European bread. We spent hours mixing, kneading, proofing, kneading again, and waiting. Bread-making is not for those who are in a hurry. It is a process that takes time, patience, and love. Ben impressed me with his determination to stick with the challenge of babka. As I watched him roll, cut, and twist the dough, and then with a flourish add dark chocolate, I felt certain this was going to be a truly wonderful treat.

My oven, like a hormonal teen, is moody. This particular day it was running hot. We did not know how hot until our beautiful, braided babkas were burned black. There was nothing to salvage. Our pride was a particular casualty. There was not even a morsel of the highly-anticipated eggy, warm, yeasty bread filled with slightly bitter melted chocolate. There was no joy in a task well done. We had nothing but a trashed kitchen, burned babkas, and two depressed bakers. Or did we?

Life, like our bread-baking experience, can be a huge disappointment. We can have our hopes dashed by little things like a ruined loaf of bread, or by big problems such as rebellious kids, a wayward spouse, depression, job loss, and health issues. The list is endless. Yet, Jesus gives us great hope, and I love that he uses the analogy of bread to talk about himself. In John 6:35 we read, “I AM the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Jesus is calling all people to come to him, including you. He will be your sustenance. The things of this world—material goods, activities, food—are only temporary, and cannot satisfy your deepest needs and longings. We think we need a new car, a new job, or a new spouse, but in reality we need Jesus. We can try to satisfy our fleshly desires with a shopping spree or finding a new job, but we will just fall deeper into despair and longing. I think we are seeing this unmet longing today in the United States and around the world, manifesting itself in the increases in suicide rates. Hear me when I say nothing in this world will satisfy you. Only Jesus can give you what you need spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Anything else will bring disappointment, drudgery, and despair. Jesus is calling out to you today with his words from John 6:51, “I AM the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Will you pray with me?

Father in Heaven, you know the needs that I have. You are not surprised that I have come to a place where nothing satisfies me. You are completely aware of the discontent in me. In fact, you have allowed this dissatisfaction so that I would realize my sinful ways of dealing with life. Please forgive me, Lord, for making other things more important than you. Father, will you help me desire you and teach me your ways? Please give me the courage and ability to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and to give Him reign over my life. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I ask for this. Amen

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