I made a cake this weekend and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever baked! My friend’s mum once gave me a recipe for the most amazing chocolate cake, but in my wisdom, I decided to add some more ingredients. Maybe I have been watching too many Bake Off programmes.
Two of my friends are moving to Hong Kong next week to be missionaries with the 24/7 Prayer Movement. This is very exciting but also sad as they will be far away from us. In celebration/commiseration we decided to have a Chinese themed party. (Partly this was so that no one had to cook and a Chinese takeaway fitted with the theme!) This is where the cake comes in.
I thought to make it a bit more oriental that I would add some spice to the cake mixture. Nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli powder all go with chocolate in theory. Turns out when you put too much in, the cake has a strange aftertaste… especially with the amount of chilli powder that fell out of the container in one go!
Next came the decoration. I made white chocolate butter cream, which was fine until I decided that I wanted it to be red. Two full bottles of red food colouring later and finally the icing was the right colour of red. My original plans to recreate the Hong Kong skyline on top of the cake were a bit too ambitious, so instead I added some citrus sprinkles (another flavour in the mix) and used some fancy edible gold spray to give it a sparkly top.
The cake looked lovely. I added some candles that said 24/7 and wha-la, the perfect looking cake for a Chinese themed going away party… so long as no one wanted to taste it!
You see everyone knew how good that chocolate cake recipe could be, and it did look very fancy, but as they say the proof is in the eating. The eating was not good. At least the chemically taste from all the food colouring masked the strong taste of spice, until the chilli hit that was!
In the Bible, we are given the perfect recipe for living our lives. Jesus even came to earth to demonstrate how it works in practice. Yet as soon as we get our hands on it we add in all sorts of extra things that pollute our lives. Like the spice in the cake, when sin enters our lives it will leave a horrible aftertaste. A few drops of the food colouring would not have affected the taste, but when you add too much of a good thing, the chemicals are overwhelming. How many examples of excess can you think of in your life?
To the outside, our Christian lives can look perfect. We can be GB leaders, sing in the choir, Sunday school teachers, the leaders of CU in school, you name it… but inside we can feel like a mess. Sin can have a real grip on our lives.
The good news is that God already knows what is going on with us. We don’t need to pretend with Him. He understands our struggles and wants to free us from the guilt and shame that comes with those struggles. God hears you when you cry out to Him when no one else will listen. You can read this in Psalm 34:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34: 17-18 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter what age you are, as soon as you tell people that you are a Christian, others will start to watch your every move. When you are going through a tough time, you can feel very guilty for letting God down. You will try and hide what is really going on inside. In those situations you should read this verse from Matthew. It is printed below from two different translations of the Bible:
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me— watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
God will take the burden from you. You do not have to carry it all. He wants us to live freely and lightly. God is gentle and humble and wants to give you rest.
He wants you to remain that delicious chocolate cake that He designed you to be. He wants you to resist sin in your life, but even when you do sin, He still loves you.
My wee sister ate the cake I made at the weekend. It didn’t matter how rubbish I said it was, she still wanted to eat it to show that she loved me anyway. How much more does God love us than that!
I pray that you will be encouraged this week and take your burdens to the only one who can do anything about it… God.