The devotional section of most Christian bookstores is filled with volume after volume of promises for a better tomorrow, the sweetest words of the Lord, and readings that plant nothing but positive seeds of faith in the reader. Many Christians find these an enjoyable way to begin or end the day but for some, they fall short. Some Christians are plagued with questions that seem out of place when arranged against the flowery words or sun-shiny phrases they read; why am I so angry, why do I only pray in emergencies, why don’t I feel safe at church? The overwhelmingly positive daily entries of many volumes seem out of place against the reality of disappointment that we see in our lives and they cause the seeds of doubt that we harbor to germinate. As they grow, the doubts do more than nag at us, they form a core of weakness in our lives that we fear addressing because everyone around us gives the appearance of having it so together. For those of us who struggle, C.D. Baker’s new book, 40 Loaves, arranges all the things we wonder about into daily readings and invitations to meditation and prayer.
When you first begin turning the pages you come upon a truth that is key to absorbing the encouragement contained on these pages. “Wisdom is found when troubled hearts ask honest questions.” Despite a church culture that encourages the formation of a false front, Baker steps up and addresses the questions that we are afraid to ask, the questions that make our faith appear weak and doubtful. Initially, we don’t want to admit that we hold these doubts or suffer from these wayward thoughts because we fear the impression they leave with others, especially in the modern Church where everyone works to appear without issue. Baker knows however, that there are more struggling wanderers than we would like to admit within our midst. Perhaps you and I are among them.
The vignettes that lead each entry draw your eyes and you can’t help but find your reflection in at least one of them. When you notice your picture you also notice the question that has bounced around your heart for days or months or years in bold, black letters. Why is my life such a mess? Why am I bored with church, the Bible, and Jesus? Why am I so angry? The great favor that Baker has done for us is not to give pat answers and then just throw in a couple of proof texts. He has allowed that we can have moments like this in our life and then nudges us to return back to the foundational truths that we know, but have trouble accepting. Like any good guide, He leads us to the spot where we see the sunrise but then lets us notice it for ourselves. God works when we are most honest and put down the facade. Doubts are not magically erased but truth begins the process of reducing their hold on our hearts. When the rays of truth begin to strike us and brighten our countenance, our guide doesn’t turn and leave us. Each entry closes with more questions to ponder and a prayer. Our doubts may not be erased but we will certainly not frame them in the same way. These are pages you can return to again and again and find something new to bring to the Father in your time with Him.
40 Loaves is not for every reader. There are no treacly-sweet pat answers to doubt in this small volume nor does it conclude with an assurance that you will be changed by the simple act of turning the pages. Bread will have to be broken with Him repeatedly. You will see yourself on at least one page and if you have the courage to be honest with self and God, your doubts will be eased and pushed aside by a newly growing robustness in your faith.
For more information about this book, have a look here at the Random House web site.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.