In my ideal-parenting fantasy world, a “proper” mum makes a really great cake for their kids. 3 times a year I try to live up to this mum-ideal by attempting to make a “proper” birthday cake for my kids. I remember my mum spending hours on a variety of outstanding cakes for us. She’s an amazingly talented cake decorator, and she loved making them. I, on the other hand, am not particularly talented in this regard, nor do I enjoy the task.
Just recently I attempted to make an Angry Birds cake for my son’s birthday. Compared to some of my other cake-making endeavours this one was looking pretty good. A few hours before the party I took the foil off the top of the cake to show my efforts to Rich only to find all the icing had melted and stuck onto the foil.
Let’s just say my reaction was not particularly gracious.
I was about to hurl it in the bin and head to Tesco when Rich “gently” suggested that I could re-patch it a bit, and that our son would still love it. And I deliberated, because I knew Rich was right – Josiah would love the cake. But, really, I didn’t want the embarrassment of presenting something that looked like a dog had chewed on it.
And of course Josiah really did love the cake.
After balloons had burst, cake had been consumed, and order restored to our home I paused and thought about all the hours of effort I’d put into the cake. Who was I trying to impress? Was it an offering of love for my son, or was it an attempt to reflect well on me? Who were all the hours of effort for?
And in my musings over the cake I’ve reflected more deeply on my life and the way I use my time, money and effort.
A few years ago there was a popular phrase “the audience of one”.
It’s a helpful phrase in remembering who I’m living my life for. I don’t want my life to be lived to impress the crowds, or even the few. I want my life to be lived for the One, and to be marked by love. Jesus was the most competent man that ever lived but never at the expense of love. Love was always His highest goal, and love is never about self-promotion.
God doesn’t ask me to impress Him, or anyone else. He asks me to turn from my way to His way, and to lay down my agenda and pick up His.
I want my life to be a love-offering to him, not a showcase of my own achievements or “good” character. And so I’m finding myself asking “Lord is this for you, or for me”, “Why am I doing this?”, “Who is it for?” and “Will it really count for eternity?”.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.