Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rats in the Bakery

Once upon a time there was a Bakery.
It was neatly decorated, with just the right touches to make your dining experience top notch.
Good coffee.
Tasty delicacies.
Fun employees.

The Head Baker was in charge.
He chose which pastries to make.
He ran the kitchen and the staff.
He was funny; customers liked him, the staff liked him, everyone liked him.

People from all over came to the Bakery to enjoy the treats and hang out.
They liked the chatter.
Their children enjoyed it.
Everyone smiled.
Everyone was happy.

As the business grew, so did the demands on the staff and the Head Baker.
He got employees to handle things like ordering flour,
writing the menu on the boards,
and chatting with the customers.
Sometimes though, he would swoop in and lose his temper with the staff.

"Why did you order THAT kind of flour?" he'd boom.
"Did you tell that customer we may someday make raspberry danishes?
I hate raspberry, we will never do that. How could YOU decide that?" he'd fume.
"Do you really think that writing looks good? I know I told you to handle it, but here is exactly how I want it done," he'd fuss.

The employees started to lose confidence.
"If he keeps changing everything we do, why do we bother?" they wondered.
Eventually, the Assistant Baker got moved to Flour Man,
the Customer Service Man got moved to Dish Washer,
the Head Frosting Man got moved to... well no was sure just what he did anymore.
And the poor Menu Writer just kept rewriting menus after working for hours on them.

Life in the kitchen was no longer fun.
But the staff hoped it was just a phase.
Part of getting bigger and busier.
They knew their beloved Head Baker would not keep acting like this.
Surely they would be pleasing to him again.

Then, the Head Baker started to take trips to visit other far away bakeries.
"See how they do things" he'd say.
"I've got go help them set up their staff and show them how it's done."
The staff wanted to tell him to stay, but alas... they knew the Head Baker would do what he wanted.

Before too long a bigger problem arose.
There were rats in the kitchen.
Yes! Rats!

The staff tried to tell the Head Baker, but he waved them off.
Before long, the rats' droppings were getting into the pastries.
The Dish Washer finally approached the Head Baker and said,
"Sir, I hate to tell you this, but I think I have spied rat droppings in some of the pans."

The Head Baker was furious.
How dare this Dish Washer tell him this.
He fumed, he threatened.
He told the Dish Washer, "Your kids are dirty! I see them playing in the mud.
Go take care of your own dirty kids before you tell me about these rats!"

The Dish Washer was greatly saddened.
Yes, his older son did like mud.
But he was too old for the Dish Washer to keep cleaning him off.
His son had to learn to choose not to jump in the mud himself.
How could the Head Baker not see this, and what did it have to do with the rats in the kitchen?

The Dish Washer knew he must leave.
He could not let the Head Baker talk about his family this way.
Sadly, he said goodbye to his kitchen friends, and left.

Some customers wondered where the beloved employee went.
The Head Baker emerged from the kitchen and said,
"He had to go. I just tried to help him with his muddy child and he got mad.
He yelled at me. He cursed at me. We cannot have a man like that in our Bakery."

The people believed him.
The other employees knew this was not true,
but they needed their jobs, and they loved the customers,
so they carried on.

But the Flour Man knew.
He knew this was not right.
He knew the Dish Washer had not done those things.
He knew the Head Baker needed to stop these actions.
And the rats, still no one was dealing with the rats.

A few months passed.
More jobs got switched around.
The Head Baker was rarely in the kitchen anymore.
When he was, he was never happy with the way things were going.
He would not listen to anyone who brought up the rat problem.
Eventually the staff began to get used to the rats, and their droppings mixed into the pastries.

But the Flour Man could not.
Finally, a few special customers came to him.
These customers were special because they were on the Bakery Board.
They helped decide things about the Bakery... in theory.
Even they had to admit, they had no control over the Head Baker.
They just said yes to his plans because they had no way not to.

The Flour Man had to tell them about the rats.
They had to admit, they already knew.
"We just thought it best not to say anything."
"It makes the Head Baker so angry if we do."

"But we love this Bakery. We love the Head Baker," said the flour man.
"We should talk to him about this. We can get rid
of these rats, and fix this before all the customers find out!"

So, they all agreed. At the next Bakery Meeting, they would talk to the Head Baker.
The meeting did not go well.
The Head Baker was furious.
"How dare you!" He fumed at the Flour Man.
"You just want to be the Head Baker! You don't even do your job as Flour Man well."

The Flour Man was heartbroken.
He loved being Flour Man; he was good at it.
He never wanted to be Head Baker.
He was happier helping out behind the scenes.

The meeting ended.
Nothing was resolved, and the Flour Man realized,
they had still never talked about the rats.
"One more chance, at the last Bakery Board meeting," he thought.

But at that last meeting, the Head Baker threw everyone for a loop.
He stormed in, and declared, "Either you get rid of this Flour Man, or I'm going, and I'll
take my Assistant Baker with me!"

The Bakery Board did not know what to do.
The Flour Man did not know what to do.
The Head Baker had all the recipes, how could they make the pastries without him? 
By now, some customers were already questioning what was going on in the kitchen.

Finally, the Flour Man realized.
He would have to go.
He loved this Bakery so much, loved the customers, and his fellow staff.
But he knew the Head Baker would not relent until he was gone.

He packed up his flour guides.
Took off his apron.

He had to leave out the back door, that very day.
He was not allowed to tell the customers goodbye.
The Head Baker would do that.

When the Head Baker told them, the customers were shocked.
They knew the Flour Man and his family well.
They loved them. They asked lots of questions.

The Head Baker did not expect this.
He'd gotten rid of the Dish Washer and others before him without much problem.
He knew he'd better act fast.
"The Flour Man wanted to run my kitchen. When I said no, he got mad and left.
He didn't care enough to stay and work things out. He didn't care if you all got the best flour
for your pastries or not. He is a bad Flour Man."

Some believed him.
Most did not.
But they loved their pastries, so they kept coming to the Bakery.

When they asked the Flour Man what happened he finally told them the truth.
"I am sad to tell you this, but there are rats in the kitchen.
The Head Baker is not what you think he is when he is back in the kitchen with us.
All I wanted to do was to tell him about the rats, but he wouldn't hear of it."

Some customers went to the Head Baker.
"Why would you fire the Flour Man? Why won't you deal with the rats?"
"We love this bakery, please Head Baker, please take care of the rats and bring back the Flour Man!"
"We will pay for the exterminator to come!"

"You can leave too," replied the Head Baker coldly.
"You are cruel to bring up those rats. That is not your business.
Go to another bakery. I will find new customers to fill your seats."

The customers were sad.
They didn't want to go to another Bakery.
They loved this Bakery.
But the Head Baker would not talk about or take care of the rats.

The Flour Man and the customers who knew he was telling the truth about the rats, left.
They tried to tell others about the rats.
The remaining customers would not listen.
"No! We have never seen any rats!" they would say.
"We haven't ever gotten sick from the food here," they would reason.
"Until I see a rat with my own two eyes, I cannot see why I would go to another bakery," they'd justify.

"Oh," said the Flour Man. "I see."
He felt abandoned. Alone.
He knew there were rats.
He knew they were getting into the food.
He knew the customers were at risk.
But they would not listen.

"My children just love this Bakery," they said.
"All of my friends come to this Bakery," they replied.
"Aren't there rats at most of the bakeries in town anyway?" they'd ask.

So he stopped trying to tell them about the rats in the kitchen.
There were other bakeries without rats.
And the bakeries that had rats in the past, had put in traps, not just pretended there wasn't a rat problem.
He knew he would rather sit at home with his wife and children eating their own homemade pastries,
rather than eat something rats had been in.

As the weeks and months passed, the Flour Man and his wife and children grew closer to the customers who'd left the Bakery, and further away from the ones who had stayed.
That was hard.
One evening over dinner he looked at his wife and asked if she missed their life at the Bakery.
She thought for a minute and replied,
"I know here at home, and at the little Bakery we sometimes do go to, there are no fancy pastries.
Ours are more simple, but just as tasty.
I know our kitchen is clean, and there are no rats.
I would rather eat our simple rat-free pastries with a few friends anyway."

He was glad she was happy again.
His sons were too.
He thought she was done speaking, but then, she added this.

"No matter how pretty they make those pastries look at that Bakery, how great the frosting, cherry toppings, and sprinkles may seem, in the end... they are all still eating rat poop." 

And with that, the Flour Man was forced to close the book on his life at the Bakery.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, He began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops."
                                                                            ~Luke 12:1 


  1. wow, Jude, just wow.

  2. Oh Jude this made me cry as we have been in this exact situation. Our story is so similar it's scary. I'm so glad to hear that things are getting better.

    Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    1. Great verse Corey, thanks!

  3. I adore you. And as I gracefully said to y'all before, I'd rather be pastry-less and frosting-less than eating rat poop every week.

    1. Love you friend, many thanks.

  4. Wow! Beautifully written. Love you Jude!

  5. Wow! Beautifully written. Love you Jude!

  6. Oh Jude, I am so sorry. Only reading these posts today. I still honestly know nothing about what happened. I was so sad and confused when you all left. That hasn't changed. I just wanted you to know that. Hugs.

    1. Thank you so much JoAnna :)

  7. I will make an appearance in this thread... of course... this was a very thoughtful story to write Jude. You could not have written one word any better than you have right here. So creative and so sad and humbling at the same time. Seems like I've heard this story before! We miss you guys. Hopefully the Lord will provide an easier schedule for me in the near future as to open doors for much much more time with family and friends we hold dear!

    1. I have been praying about that very thing for you Matt! Hang in there, and keep us posted!

  8. Jude! My goodness! This story is soooooo right on! We are in a very similar situation here. I will be sharing this. Love you so! Email me sometimes.

  9. Michelle, I will e-mail you today. So sorry you are experiencing this hurt too.

  10. And the stories still continue....
    Barb (Former Leader's Journey)

  11. Anonymous7:42 PM

    I am sure you know the head baker finally left the rat poop behind at Salem Chapel. We miss you and your family so much.

  12. Anonymous5:48 PM

    So what do the rats represent?

    1. rats = sin
      are you looking for specifics?