We Can Have Our Cake and Eat It Too!
Who doesn’t love to celebrate a birthday? A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the birthdays of a guy and girl in our youth group. In preparation, the birthday girl started to bake a cake for everyone, which some of us gathered in the kitchen to help her with. Everything was going perfectly, the cake was in the oven, its enticing aroma wafting through the church building—“ping!”—the timer rang— one guy who’d followed his nose to the kitchen offered to take one of the layers out—the macho way, with no oven mitts—when—“oww!”—he dropped the cake!
Uh oh. Everyone stood looking down at the misshapen layer in shock and dismay. But the birthday girl and her best friend decided to not let that ruin their night or even the cake. They scooped up the small pieces and crumbles not touching the floor and pressed them together in another pan. Using a small cup, they cut out nice, round, discs from three larger chunks, and made those into two ears and a nose. These they attached to the still-intact layer of chocolate cake, making it look like a bear. Then the rest of us pitched in, either helping to spread icing and decoration or cheering the decorators on.
When I talked to the birthday girl later about it, complimenting her on her mature reaction, she replied, “Yeah, well, at first I was really upset. But then I thought, ‘oh well, what’s done is done. Might as well make the best of it.”
Wow! What a way to handle a disaster and turn it into a blessing! She could’ve given up and cried. She could’ve stormed out of the kitchen, loudly cursing the would-be helpful guy and every member of the male gender. But instead, she decided to make the best of the cake. She also forgave the guy, telling him, “It’s ok. I know you were just trying to help.” The result? Two cakes, both edible, with one even more beautiful and creative than originally planned. And a lot of happy people singing “Happy Birthday” and eating them!
Redemption happened. Groans turned into grace. A “flop” morphed into something fancy. “Oh no!” changed to “Oh wow!—this is beautiful! How did you do it?!”
All because this girl let it. What about us? How do we react when our plans, efforts, and situations “drop” into what appears to be total failure? Do we trust the Lord enough to see His redemptive design in it, or at least to count on one to be there? Are we willing to partner with Him to make it happen when He shows us how and equips us to do so? Rom. 8:28 promises: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
“Well,” we might say, “That’s fine for situations that go sour, and maybe for when other people fail us some way. He’s willing to make it right for us. But what if it’s our fault? Why should He be willing to fix things for us then? Isn’t that why we have sayings like, ‘you made your bed, you lie in it.’?” But what if we admit we blew it, and are asking the Lord’s help to make it right? What good parent, if their child comes to them, crying that they’d gotten the bed-sheets on all wrong, would make that child go sleep that way? They’d either fix it or help the child to, depending on the child’s ability!
Sometimes we’re the person who dropped something of our own. Sometimes we’re the person who “dropped the ball” on others who were counting on us. That feels even worse! That’s when we really expect rejection and punishment! But the Lord says, “I’ve got that covered too.” And hopefully anyone else would say the same, realizing that they themselves aren’t perfect!
Sometimes someone else “drops our cake”. Can we forgive them? Can we extend grace? To extend means to make something go farther. Grace starts with God’s grace to us. In light of that, we can certainly make it go farther to cover whoever messed up. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mat. 5:7)
Sometimes we’re called to be the supporters. The ones who come alongside to help scoop up the pieces and assist in making things work out even better than before.
Whatever our role, once we decide to let Him work in and through us, the Lord always has a way of making it so that we can have our cake and eat it too—even if it drops!