On Saturday as I worked at my job baking bagels we experienced a rush of people who wanted to buy a dozen bagels. I went from having baskets full of bagels to empty baskets in a matter of minutes.
The problem was that I could not bake the bagels fast enough to meet the demand during that period of time. You have to understand that the way we bake bagels requires a certain process which cannot be rushed. There are certain steps that must be followed for the bagels to come out of the oven looking right.
Since our bakery uses frozen dough the first step in the process is to take the frozen dough and set it on a fiberglass board so it has a chance to thaw and rise. This little task is called slacking. You can imagine the little jokes I have heard while slacking the dough.
The dough is then put into the walk in cooler where it stays until it is ready to be used. When it is ready to be baked, about a day later, it is taken out of the cooler where it needs to stay for about 5 minutes to bring it up to room temperature. Once the raw bagel is at room temperature it is put into a vat of boiling water. Why boil? Boiling gelatinizes the starch in the outer layer of dough, giving the bagels their characteristic chewy crust. (I couldn't remember why we boiled them and so I Googled it, so this information is from All Recipes.)
After being kettled for 90 seconds the dough is strained and put onto baking sticks, five per stick. If the bagels require a topping you place them face up and cover them with the right topping, and then you flip them over so they are face down on the stick. Non-topping bagels naturally are placed face down from the start. This whole procedure can take another 3 to 4 minutes.
Once the bagels have been properly placed on the sticks they are finally placed in the revolving oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes you reach in and flip and remove the baking sticks to allow the bagels to finish baking on the shelf face for another 13 minutes. Then it was time to remove the bagels and put them in a basket so they could go out front.
When you are feeling rushed it is easy to begin to think that you can take a short cut, like not kettling the bagels for 90 seconds, but if you do that then the bagel doesn't get the nice chewy crust it is supposed to have. Trying to shorten the baking times means the bagel won't have the nice brown color it should have. In the end any short cuts that a baker takes results in an inferior bagel.
This is where I would like to make an application to our lives. When Abraham was 75-years-old God promised him a son. Abraham and his wife Sarah waited and waited and there was no son. Somewhere around 10 years later Abraham and Sarah thought they would give God a hand, and Abraham had a son with Sarah's servant girl, a perfectly legitimate solution in that culture, but it wasn't what God had in mind. It was another 15 years or so that God blessed Abraham and Sarah with the son of promise, Isaac. In that time of waiting God was preparing the couple for the son who was to come, but because of their shortcut things didn't turn out like they should have.
You and I are impatient. We want God to transform us now and give us the big assignment that will turn the world upside down, but God has a process that He wants to take us through. There is no shortcut, you can't take a test and skip a step or start going to worship twice a week for extra credit. God, like a good baker, is taking His time to make sure we turn out exactly like we are supposed to.
What do we need in this process? We need wisdom. Without wisdom we will miss out on how God is using the experiences of our lives, including our pain, to mold us into the people He created us to be. Remember what James wrote:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.In this process of transformation, instead of looking for a shortcut we need to ask God for wisdom, because only then can we do our part as we seek to become the people God desires us to be.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (James 1:2-4; NLT).