When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12)
“Be on your guard against the yeast…” my Lyme doctor implied. She didn’t say it like Jesus did, but somewhere it was woven into her one hundred page treatment manual. Taking four or five antibiotics in unison over long periods of time doesn’t allow for the ingestion of much yeast. Of course, I have treated myself to a little bread or sugar once in a while, but as much as I have been able to, I have avoided breads and sugars.
The Lyme bacteria feeds off of simple sugars, so the goal, at least as far as I can understand it, is to starve it by avoiding foods that are high in sugar or carbs. It sounds simple enough. It seems that just knowing that I am feeding the enemy by eating sugar would allow me to stay the course.
Although I have been relatively faithful to the diet, I have spent a good bit of time feeling as if I am walking a tightrope, wondering how far I can lean to the left or right and still not fall. I have wondered if those few sips of coke or the little bit of chocolate or the occasional splurge on a desert could leave me standing at the end of an unsuccessful Lyme treatment asking, “Why did I lean so far to the left or right? Why wasn’t I more rigid about the diet?”
In other words, I begin believing that it all depends on me.
Over the past few weeks, the fatigue and joint pain have returned, and I have found myself questioning if I will ever return “home”, if this season of captivity will ever end. And I am recognizing that one of my largest fears is that it could all be my fault, that if I had been stricter about the diet or more faithful to the steaming hot baths, or not forgotten those few doses of antibiotics on busy days, that surely I would be well by now.
It has been a year and a half now, but I am still holding tight to God’s promise that this season will pass over. I read the passages in Exodus last week about the Passover meal and was reminded that the Israelites were instructed not to leaven their bread, to leave out the yeast.
I sometimes have a habit of taking God literally when often He is speaking of spiritual parallels, so the Passover verses left me thinking God must be reminding me to avoid the yeast, that perhaps part of this season passing over me was somehow linked to avoiding the yeast and sugar and bread that I have been trying to avoid for eighteen months.
So I awoke this morning ready to jump back on the no yeast train and ride to the finish line of Lyme treatment. But in my quiet time, I stumbled across these verses where Jesus is rebuking the disciples for taking him so literally when he is speaking to them figuratively.
He says to them, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?”
He points them to a memory of bread, but the bread is not the point. The point is the miracle that Jesus performed, the five loaves of bread feeding the five thousand.
“Don’t you remember…?” He asks. And then he points them to the miracle. He points them to himself, the bread of life. He wasn’t rebuking them for forgetting to bring the bread, but for forgetting Him and the miracles that he had performed along the way.
So as I read through these verses, I began to hear the spirit speak, “Don’t you remember all of the miracles I have performed along the way? Don’t you remember how I rescued you in your twenties? Don’t you remember how I pulled you from the pits of despair in your thirties? Don’t you remember that I said healing would come in your forties, that your time in the desert would be over? Have you forgotten that my word does not return void? Maintain a healthy diet, but in the end, do not be so arrogant as to think that your source of healing is you. It does not come from you. It comes only from my Spirit living in you.
Staying on your tight rope takes your eyes off of me and onto you. It causes you to forget me. And the forgetfulness of me is nothing but the yeast of the Pharisees, a gospel of rules that is no gospel at all, an ungospel that spreads like yeast through the whole batch of dough.
He says, “Go”
from your rope pulled tight
knowing you will land
in the soft hands
that formed you
before time began.
white and ripe for harvest
knowing light will shine
from your darkest days of Lyme.
Treasures stored in the dark
pleading for art
to come forth
from the womb
of this woman
too long in labor
I need your favor
as you teach me
you have sewn
along the way.
I praise through pain
as remembrance changes me
sets me free
on ropes pulled tight
across my chest
Rest in Me
in sweet lines of mercy
Sleep long and deep
knowing I am strong
when you are weak.