Burned Toast

“I love burned toast and marmalade.”

Scrape the worst parts off; smear with some sticky marmalade, and what was ruined becomes a whole new treat to appreciate. Life can be like that with God. When times are hard or circumstances don’t turn out as we’d hoped, with some patience and creativity new possibilities emerge. What can I bring, or add that will make a difference?

In the moments when all we see is smoke and badly burned toast – the defiled remnant of what had once been fresh bread in our hungry hands, what then? The burned toast could be shattered dreams, the death of a loved one, career failure, dreams deflated and abandoned, injuries, faith on life support. So many reasons to question and wonder where the hope is, the way forward. How to regain the passion to believe after this?

My life (like most of us) has touched those places of heat and smoke and charcoal dreams. Only an extra pair of hands much larger than mine has enabled a transformation from cremation to resurrected life. Plunging into valleys and soaring to exhilarating high points with a stomach full of butterflies and other flying creatures, a fog of apprehension pierced with bursts of sunlight. Life’s a roller coaster!

Sometimes when one talks about God, and believing in Him, an image pops up of sitting in a random church listening, and listening, and listening….. “Where’s the connection to my life outside of this religious candy box?” we whisper. Acknowledging burned toast, disillusionment, or whatever – is a great place to start. Rather than pretending, denying, or playing nice. We just don’t want to stay there too long. Finding someone to share your burned toast with is often helpful (venting and expressing helps scrape off those blackened bits). Beware, not everyone has time for burned toast. Fresh bread is all they share – which leaves some of us feeling rather stale and ‘not acceptable’.

Throughout the pages of the Bible God meets people and walks alongside them in every conceivable venue – almost never inside a building. They converse by the ocean, alongside rivers, on top of mountains, in homes, up trees, in caves, in boats, in chariots, in fire, in thunderstorms, in earthquakes, in deserts, in vineyards, in synagogues, in dreams, in visions, in books…. These encounters between God and people invariably were interruptions, surprises, and usually unexpected events that happened while they were on their way to somewhere else or going nowhere.

Jesus spent day after day with his disciples walking along roads, teaching, healing; surprising those he met with a love and acceptance they never expected. He lived with an authority, power and a self-assurance that was quite remarkable considering the political circumstance into which he was born. His home country was occupied by the Roman superpower of the day, his family was very ordinary and ‘working class’, his opportunities for ‘self-fulfillment’, getting rich, or attending university were zero. Add to that the fact that he was destined for a significant spiritual ‘ministry’ and waited thirty years before he was permitted to do anything publicly! How did he do it? After all he was fully human, the same as you and me.

Yet circumstances did not appear to rule his life. Instead he embraced his life and situation without flinching or complaining. He seemed to be aware of another reality and truth beyond the visible. That was the place of truth from which he derived his meaning, purpose, and sustenance. A trusting relationship with his Father, no matter what.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Jesus came to earth in the first place; to broaden our horizons and to help us see truth beyond the ‘natural’.

The trick or truth is never in the burned toast. Rather it’s discovered within the heart and mind of the one holding the scarred pieces. When I place my hands clutching blackened crumbs into the hands of the living God and remain there with patience – that’s the key. I should not be surprised to find diamonds and glittering emeralds emerging between my fingers.

That’s what He does! Water into wine, stormy sea into calm, sickness into healing, death into life, enemies into friends, despair into hope. Dejection into direction, lost into found, drought into rain, aimless into purpose, barren into fruitful. Sometimes we try so hard and think the solutions are always rooted in us, or the blame, or the disappointment. There’s mystery in this life. If all you consider in life is fresh bread chances are you will give away empty platitudes. Life’s richer than that!

As we accelerate out of Christmas into a New Year there’s a high probability that either you, or someone you know, is burdened with burned toast. There’s no shame in that, we’re not alone. But it’s not the end. Scrape off the charred bits (forgive, be forgiven, accept, embrace, yield), ask God your Father to pass the marmalade, the jam, or the maple syrup – and trust him turn the ashes into joy! Believe and be patient.

There is a light
It burns brighter than the sun
He steals the night
And casts no shadow
There is hope
Should oceans rise and mountains fall
He never fails


So take heart
Let His love lead us though the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again


In death by love
The fallen world was overcome
He wears the scars of our freedom
In His Name
All our fears are swept away
He never fails


All the world and its troubles
Take heart for He has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart for God has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart for He has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart for our God has overcome


All the world and its troubles
Take heart for He has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart our God has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart for He has overcome
All the world and its troubles
Take heart our God has overcome


All our troubles and all our tears
God our hope He has overcome
All our failure and all our fear
God our love He has overcome

All our heartache and all our pain
God our healer He has overcome
All our burdens and all our shame
God our freedom He has overcome

God our justice God our grace
God our freedom He has overcome
God our refuge God our strength
God is with us He has overcome

John Cox

Christian Author and Counsellor

2 comments

  • Thank you, John for the many times the Lord has used you to scrape off my burned edges. Reading your blogs has been a highlight to many grey Covid-restricted days. I appreciate your printing the words to the songs so I can sing along.
    May you often catch sight of Jesus smiling at you this new year. Audrey

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