I recall my days, or rather years and years of cake decorating with mixed feelings. Thankfully most of the memories are wonderful; with the response on the faces of the recipients being the reward – especially when the recipients are children, seeing their young curious faces brighten with delight. However there are some dreaded memories too. I recall one cake looking lovely but the texture of that eggless date cake had somehow been a flop – it had been hard. This wasn’t a usual occurrence so the feedback was not only embarrassing but it also robbed all satisfaction of the labour.
So many things can go wrong in cake decorating. The texture and thus the surface of the cake need to be perfect in order for the icing / frosting to be smooth and the decorations to stand firm. Okay, shaving the sides of the cake is an option but then it’s such a waste of cake and still not a comparison. The cake also needs to be cooled well before any decorating can begin, even if it’s plain dusting with icing sugar!
Think of the ingredients that are required for a cake. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, a dash of milk, vanilla essence, baking powder, the list grows on… Each ingredient plays a vital role in bringing the cake together. As rich as the ingredients can get, often we simply aren’t content with just the cake. We don’t appreciate the cake that we have, let alone the ingredients! Isn’t this is so similar to our lives?
We have the one and only true and living God in our lives. He is our Heavenly Father, this same God who is the creator of ALL the universes and ALL that is in it, the Supreme Sovereign Almighty God. Our relationship with Him develops with various ingredients – studying and meditating on His Word, the work of Christ on the cross and our response to that (repenting of our sins and inviting Jesus to be our Saviour, the PRESIDENT of our hearts), being led by the Holy Spirit, prayer which is a TWO-way communication with God of which sitting still and listening to Him plays a key part, basking in His presence, hearing His voice through His Word, directly, through Creation, through others etc.
Yet we are an ungrateful people. We murmur and complain and are not content with Him.
- You see His hand in our lives, His provision, His love yet are you content with Him?
- What are you longing for today? Is it a better job, a family, a baby, a marriage partner, finances, increased wealth…? Why do you long for them?
“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business!” (Ecclesiastes 4:8).
- Where does your joy come from?
- Yes, all these things are vital but God knows our needs. Are we able to be joyful whether we are in need or whether we have plenty?
Paul was in prison when he wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11-12). He knew the love of God and was driven by the joy of the Lord!
Like the cake is required for the icing, God’s love is essential for our relationships with one another to be solid and healthy. It provides the base. The cross depicts this truth rather well. Just like the vertical component of the cross supports the horizontal, our relationship with God supports our relationships with one another. The deeper the vertical is rooted, the firmer the cross stands. Likewise, the deeper our relationship with God, the more we are able to connect with others despite the flaws of all concerned.
God Himself said that human should not be alone. Relationships are ordained by Him. However, the FIRST greatest commandment is to love God with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength. Now what does that leave us with? Nothing! We have to love Him with our ALL. Out of our love for God and by His love, our love for others flows. We know He has forgiven us, so we are able to forgive others. We know He has created us in His image, so we recognise the same with others. We know that we have many flaws and imperfect, likewise we remember that others too have fallen short of His glory. We have tasted His grace, so we extend His grace to others too.
The problem arises when the emphasis is on everything else but God. Our joy can come from God alone. Relationships can’t complete us just as much as wealth, jobs etc can’t complete us. God and ONLY God can complete us.
“The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23).
We feel that we need this and that, to be able to continue on in life, to survive, to be happy etc. However as Paul said while in prison mind you, “I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength” (v. 13).
Our relationship with God should be like the BASE cake that we can be content with.
Everything and everyone else should be like the icing (or even better the cherry) on top –
extra and appreciated!