Monday, March 13, 2017

Homebrewing Salvation

Lent, Day 11.

Previously: For Now, Just Live, Go Ahead and Give Up Chocolate for Lent

I've been learning how to brew beer the past few weeks. Doing so has been an aspiration of mine for a couple years, and my wife's celiac diagnosis has recently added to the motivation as I'd eventually like to try making something gluten free for her. But we've agreed that I should get the basics down before attempting that.

I just finished brewing a double IPA. It's finally done after five weeks of boiling, fermenting, bottling, and carbonating. There was some trial and error along the way that included me having to mop an unfortunate amount of the end product off my kitchen floor, but things like that are part of the learning. But ultimately, I have to say that it tastes pretty good.

If there's one thing I can say about my experience of brewing my first beer, it's that the process is certainly not a fast one. If you want to end up with something truly satisfying, it can't be. There are plenty of people and places promising quick faith fixes, but you have to wait longer for the good stuff to take shape and take root. So you have to embrace the number of steps involved. And you have to embrace patience. And you have to appreciate what embracing these things will eventually produce.

It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
The notion of "working out your own salvation" can sound strange. It may sound at first like Paul is advocating for something we can do ourselves. But he completes his thought when he adds that it is God who is at work in us, enabling us to work. It is not the salvation itself that we work out, but the discovery of what it means and how God is present and active in our lives, which evolves and changes as we learn more about ourselves and the world.

In other words, faith is a process. Maybe that itself isn't much of a revelation. But the daily work of it can be long, tedious, slow, boring, and frustrating. It doesn't just fully bloom out of nothing, showing us the true and perfect way to do all things while completely in tune with God. Instead, it features waiting, unexpected turns, and new directions and ideas.

You have to appreciate what embracing these things will eventually produce. And you may not even realize it's producing anything most days until one day, you can look back and see how far it's all come.