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>Bread Machinephoto © 2009 eddie welker | more info (via: Wylio)

For Christmas this year, one of the things my wife and I got ourselves is a bread machine. And, honestly, I’ve been tearing it up, making: white bread, French bread, wheat bread, and beer bread (my wife likes this the best). Everybody’s loving the bread, telling me what a good job I’m doing. While I appreciate it, I think the accolades really should fall at the feet of the chefs in the Cuisinart test kitchens. I say this because I’m just following the recipes–the formulas–they’ve laid out for me. Truly, there aren’t many things in life simpler than operating a bread machine. Put the ingredients in the proscribed order, and out pops hot, fresh bread.

For a long time, I treated my faith like this–like it was a recipe to be followed. A series of formulas that produced a predetermined result. Because of this, it really wasn’t my faith. Now there are certainly things common to all Christians, but God made us individuals for a reason. Thus, your spiritual pilgrimage won’t necessarily look like mine. But I didn’t get that, instead tried to tow (what I thought) was the party line. One way–and I’ve touched on this before–this played out in my life is that I heard Harry Potter was evil, so Harry Potter was evil. I didn’t bother to investigate for myself. There were a great many things that I didn’t bother to investigate for myself.

Of the things that I actually did bother to look into–such as day-age, the gap theory, the age of the earth–when I dared to voice my convictions on the matter, what I got in response can only be described as hatorade. Very much in line with prior life experience, this negative reinforcement taught me nothing so much as to shut up. That nobody cared what I had to say. That I needed to tow the party line to fit in with my Christian friends. Like the bread machine, if I wanted good results, there would be no straying from the recipe.

If I learned anything at all in 2010, it’s that God made me to be me. No one else. He already has a Donald Miller, a Jon Acuff, a whoever. He doesn’t want another, a clone. He only made one of me, and He wants me to be the best me I can be. I am learning to make my faith my faith, having determined to honor Him by living by the light He’s given me.

How about you? When did you decide to make your faith your own?