Every week, the moms group I attend puts out free day-old bread from a local bakery. I grabbed a whole-wheat baguette and before I knew it, the day old bread turned into rock-hard week-old bread, which is pretty useless to slice and eat as-is. Instead of throwing the bread away, I decided to make baked French toast for Christmas. The dried bread was perfect for soaking up the [super healthy] egg & half-and-half mixture, making the bread softer and even more flavorful than before.
As I cut the desiccated bread into cubes to make the French toast, I thought of Grandma Moses.
Grandma Moses spent most of her life creating art through embroidery and quilting. When she turned 76, she developed painful arthritis and could no longer sew. As an alternative, she began to paint. It is this skill for which she is garnered acclaim and has built a lasting legacy.
Grandma Moses’ story & my repurposed bread remind me that God can use even the last vestiges of our days in remarkable ways.
Take Abraham and Sarah, for instance. The Lord had promised Abraham descendants too great to number, yet as the years wore on he had only one son (a souvenir of “helping” God fulfill his promises) and Sarah remained childless. Even still, the promise the Lord made remained and the aged couple was reminded that they would have a child.
Then one of [their visitors] said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh” (Genesis 18:10-15).
I get her laughter. I get her scoffing at the idea that her worn-out body could bear a child after all that time. I hear her frustration after waiting for years for the Lord to keep his promise. I understand the feeling like that ship has sailed; however, it wasn’t the end.
Sure enough, the story ends just as the Lord said it would, “The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would…Abraham was 100 years old [!] when Isaac was born” (Genesis 21:1-2, 5).
God kept his promise. Even when things were beyond hope from a human perspective, they were not beyond hope for the Lord.
As the year draws to a close, it’s tempting to write off the last few days/hours as done and rush forward to the next year, full of possibility and promise. On a larger scale, as we age or face complex, unexpected challenges it is all too easy for us to write the end of our story without realizing that the Lord does his most remarkable work when it seems we are well past our prime. That’s what makes it special and miraculous.
As I set my old bread cubes to soak overnight, I thought about how the quality which makes them useless for eating one way, makes them perfect for another. The same can be said for Grandma Moses’ arthritis. What made it impossible for her to sew paved the way for her career as a painter. Perhaps the things that make us feel most useless or beyond the redemption are the very things that the Lord will use to demonstrate once again that nothing is too hard for him.
Maybe this year has been difficult and life-changing for you. Maybe it seems that life hasn’t changed at all (and you wish it would). To that, I’d like to leave you with two of my favorite promises from the Lord to cling to in both times of upheaval and stagnation:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
Even when it seems like it, it’s not the end because nothing is too hard for the Lord.