(P.S. — Sorry for the accidental early post of this before it was finished. It’s amazing what a click of the wrong button can do!)
Earlier — actually, right before the Days of Unleavened Bread began — I had the idea of serializing some of the lessons I got out of “deleavening” this year. I thought releasing one per day during the Days of Unleavened Bread would be pretty fun. But, I had more ambition than time and energy, so it didn’t happen. 😦
However, let me make up for it now by listing many of them here in one post. 🙂
By way of introduction, I love God’s Holy Days for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is highlighted during the Days of Unleavened bread: the lessons we learn by keeping them. And, unlike the “lessons” to be derived by keeping man-made holidays, these lessons come right out of God’s Lesson Plan. He designed the days, and He gets all the credit.
The Days of Unleavened Bread involve three commands: Get the leavening out of your home & property, do not eat anything leavened for seven days, do eat unleavened bread for seven days.
What is fun for me about the first of these — deleavening, as we tend to call it — in the days leading up to the festival is the meditations it can spur. During these days leaven pictures sin, and ridding oneself of leaven pictures repenting of sin and removing it from your life — the only proper response to the sacrifice of Christ, pictured by the Passover which occurs (not coincidentally) the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This makes getting rid of leaven a great meditation on getting rid of sin.
Back in 2008, I think I did a much longer and more detailed post than the one I will do here. Feel free and go back and read that one: “Deleavening Meditations, 2008” — posted back on April 22, 2008. Feel free to ignore the “Jimmy Buffet” non-lesson in that one!) There was one follow up that year: “Point that donut somewhere else, lady — it might go off!” The year before that I did another rather detailed one: “A list of lessons from this year’s deleavening” — posted on April 6, 2007. Actually, there were two more follow ups in 2007: One more Unleavened Bread lesson! & Still one more lesson: Attack of the Unleavened Tacos.
(Actually, that last post was misnamed, since I have now learned that the beef in the tacos at that joint actually has leavening in it. Can you believe it? The beef. Check it out, yourself, with the online Taco Bell Ingredient List. Look at the list for “Seasoned Ground Beef.” Yes, it says, “Autolyzed Yeast Extract,” which is not a leavening agent, but, a little later on the list, there it is: “Yeast.” Plain ol’ leavening agent “yeast”! Spock Hotel, I thought I knew ye… Thanks to JS on Facebook who caught that one! And thanks to GD who then caught later that their “Southwest Chicken” meat seasoning has it too.)
[UPDATE, 5/7/2010: Taco Bell has been liberated! 🙂 As discovered in the comments discussion, below, the yeast is apparently “torula yeast” which is inactive and not a leavening agent, at all. My Taco Bell-devoted taste buds are going to be so pleased…]
I don’t think I wrote much on the topic in 2009 — just a brief mention in “Wonderful side effect of Unleavened Bread preparations” on April 3, 2009.
But, today, I list a few meditations I had during our deleavening for 2010. Not as detailed as in years past, but more than last year: hopefully a happy medium. 🙂
- I eat at my desk a lot and that desk is also home for our cat 50%-60% of the day. (At least it seems that way!) We recently put a basket and a pillow up there, and she seems to like the high vantage point it provides for her — up and away from ferret-based interference! Well, to deleaven properly I had to move the basket while she was in it. Clearly, she was not happy, as her goofy facial expression told me.
Lesson I gained? Sometimes in seeking to change our lives and remove sin, we inconvenience others. It may be those who used to enjoy sin with us, or it may be family members and close friends for whom our new way of life is unexpected and confusing. But we don’t fail to address that sin just to keep from inconveniencing them. We show them love and understanding and make the change as pleasant for them as we can within the scope of God’s law, but we change anyway. (Of course, inconveniencing a cat is just a bonus…)
- Speaking of the desk, I had prepared it for deleavening a few days before I actually did: Straightened, tidied, and ready to be dusted/wiped/etc. But I didn’t get to it immediately. Other things came up — projects, phone calls, house-buying stuff… And before I could get to the actual deleavening, it was all cluttered again, almost as bad as it was before.
Lesson I gained? If you’re going to get rid of sin, don’t dilly dally. Don’t get it started and then leave it half done. Commit and do it. If not, before you know it, the old life (and old obstacles) are back with a vengeance.
- Deleavening often involves dusting, as those fine little crumbs and junk are good and present in that stuff. (Of course, there is leavening agent in the very air we breathe, but that’s another story!) In my dusting, I found that an old-but-cherished picture of my two oldest boys was coated pretty good, making the very bright and colorful picture of them dim and a little hard to see.
Lesson I gained? Sin interferes with my ability to see my family properly, as well as my responsibility to my family. The more sin I am able to remove with the help of the living Christ, the more I see my family and my responsibilities to them clearly — as God sees them.Lesson #2 I got from that one: It is foolish to think that our own sins, no matter how “private,” do not affect our families. They do.
- Actually, shortly after that, I came to an old Bible of mine in the same condition. Coated in dust. The admonition, “Blow the dust off your Bibles!” came to mind quickly and gave me a smile, though I have to say that the shelf below that one has 9 Bibles four 4 New Testaments, with considerably less dust. 🙂
Still…I had the same thought that I did above concerning the photograph of the kids. How does sin affect how I view the Scriptures? How often does my sin combine with my Jeremiah 17:9 heart to “interpret” the Scriptures in a particular way. I’ve seen God’s Word in the hands of people motivated not by a real love of the truth but by their desire to win an argument or “make their point” — and it isn’t pretty. But I have to ask myself if I ever do that. Do I ever allow my pride (a sin if there ever was one!) to get between me and God’s Word, so that I am not using it properly — not understanding it as God intended it, or not allowing it to reshape and correct me as it should.
- In cleaning our van, there was a whole universe of crumbs a waitin’… The most difficult spots were in the back, where our kids would fail to throw away some bread-related item, such as the tip of a hot dog bun, abandoned when the dog ran out before the bun. Not thrown away, the item rested on the van floor or under a seat, where it dried, crumbled, and was eventually ground into the fibers of the carpet and more difficult to extract.
This lesson came courtesy of my wife’s meditation: How much easier it would have been if it would have been if those hot dog bun tips were tossed out at the beginning, like the garbage they were! When we discover sin, toss it then! The longer it stays, the more chance it has become all the more ingrained — and more difficult to remove.
- After our cleaning this year — which was probably closer to a full “Spring Cleaning” than last year — everything looked so nice! My office looked better than it has since… well, since last Unleavened Bread!
And doesn’t our world and our lives look so much better with sin removed?
- My wife and I discovered a new leavening agent this year. For years, we had ignored it thinking it was not in any way a leavening agent, and yet it was, indeed — often used as a substitute for sodium bicarbonate (which we did know about, thank you very much!). Presented with the facts, there was no arguing about it — just a flushing of certain breakfast cereals down the drain and away from our now-a-bit-more-deleavened home.
The lesson here (which my wife and I both discussed): How many times when presented with facts that demonstrate we are, truly, caught up in a sin do people rush into denial and defensiveness? Are we humble enough to confront what may have been life long practices and habits and consider the possibility that they may actually be sinful?
- The last one comes courtesy of a sufferer of Celiac disease (who actually played a role in the one I mentioned immediately above, as well): Avoiding gluten is a must for her and thus the rest of the year for her is spent avoiding most of the foods that the rest of us only avoid during the Days of Unleavened Bread. To her, much of these days seem pretty much like what she does all the time and not nearly as odd as it is for those of us who munch on random fluffy stuff without fear the other 358 days of the year.
What she suggested as a lesson from that was that when removing sin is a habit and a way of life, it gets easier — more natural. It may seem very unnatural at first (thanks to the evil one who has a hand in forming our impressions of what is “natural” for us), but after conversion (an ongoing process, remember?) and a life spent in focusing on God’s Way of doing things, seeking righteousness and avoiding/rooting out evil becomes the new norm: comfortable, accepted, and wonderfully normal in every way.
And that’s it! I had hoped to make this one a short one, but, as usual, my babble machine got stuck in the “on” position.
Whatever lessons you have learned or thoughts you have pondered during these remarkable days, I hope they have been worthwhile. God’s Holy Days are a real treasure — a gift from Christ to His Bride — and I pray that this season has been profitable for His people everywhere.