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That's the Way We've Always Done It


Ever hear that story about the young bride who cut the ends off the ham when making her first Easter dinner? When asked why, she responded that this is what her own mother always did when she was growing up. Curious as to the important cooking reason behind the missing ends, she asked her mother for the answer, only to find out that Mom had done it all those years because Grandma had done it before her.

Determined to discover the mystery behind this important method to a great ham, they both went to Grandma and inquired. Grandma’s response? She never had a roasting pan big enough for the entire ham, so she simply cut the ends off to make it fit.

I remember hearing this story years ago and thinking, “That’s ridiculous. Who would actually do such a thing?”

Well…

For almost a year now, I’ve been making milk kefir at home. We go through a lot of it since I’ve discovered several different ways to drink/eat it (but that’s for a different time.) Ryan thinks it tastes like buttermilk, so he likes to pour it over homemade sourdough bread and eat it with a spoon. Yeah, I know.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law taught me how to make this amazing sourdough bread not long after we were married 22 years ago. On and off over the past two decades I would get a “start” from her that had to be “fed” every 3-5 days. After you feed the starter, you then need to take out a cup of the liquid later that day to either make bread with or simply throw out.

I’m going to be honest here—I love the bread itself, but I have absolutely HATED making it. That’s probably the reason that I always ended up letting the starter die at some point. You see, you have to mix up this sticky batter with your hands because it gets too much to handle with a spoon or spatula. It’s always such a mess, and if you know me at all, you know that I can’t stand MESS!

It never seemed like I could get all that dough off of those fine little hairs on your hands either. Plus I typically forgot to take my wedding ring off until it was too late, and it would be caked with dough in every little crevasse.

And I was supposed to do this every 3 to 5 days? Explains why most days my cup of starter was just thrown down the drain.

But now that the kefir/sourdough bread combo was such a healthy hit with Ryan, I was stuck baking it every single week. After a couple months of this, I looked around my kitchen and thought, “There HAS to be another way.”

There sitting in the corner of my counter was the beautiful Kitchen-aid mixer we received as a wedding gift, hardly used until about 6 or 7 years ago. To my utter delight, mixing the bread had never been so easy! I was brilliant!

When Ryan got home, I declared to him my new discovery and how after 20 years this appliance had transformed my entire attitude toward making his bread.

He wasn’t as impressed as I thought he would be. In fact, he sort of shrugged and asked, “Why hadn’t you ever used it before? It’s been sitting on our counter for over 20 years.”

That’s easy. “Because that’s not the way your mom showed me how to make it. She always used her hands.”

Oh, wait.

It never crossed my mind that she DIDN’T HAVE a Kitchen-aid mixer herself, and that had she owned one, she probably would have used it too.

TWENTY-TWO YEARS!!!!

Oh, how easily we fall into the trap of tradition or “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” The Lord warned Israel of this through the prophet Isaiah when He said, “…this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13 NASB)

The Israelites didn’t INTEND to fall into the trap of tradition. They were God’s chosen people for crying out loud, and they knew it. They did things differently than other people around them. They worshipped differently. They tried to live by God’s standards.

But somehow, somewhere, their RELATIONSHIP with the Creator became a RELIGION of do’s and don’ts and actions to simply check off a list. Their hearts slipped farther and farther away from the one true God.

Yes, but that’s the Israelites we might say. We know their history of falling away from God and then returning to Him—over and over again.

But Jesus reiterated Isaiah’s words to the Pharisees and scribes of His own day, “‘Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.’ He also said to them, ‘You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!’” (Mark 7:6-9 HCSB)

That was HUNDREDS of years after Isaiah’s prophecy, and people were still just going through the motions.

We are such creatures of habit. So we need to always, ALWAYS be grounded in God’s Word, spending REGULAR time with our Maker in prayer and ever seeking HIS will in our lives. Otherwise we may just find that twenty-two years has gone by, and we’ve missed the spiritual blessing that was right in front of our face because we were too busy clinging to “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

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