It has been a day! It started at about 2:00 a.m. with our aging dog requiring extra assistance for the remainder of the wee hours. Of course, it was also our oldest daughter’s birthday, and I needed to be up hanging birthday decorations to “surprise” her when she woke. This has become a family tradition, and therefore, has transitioned from surprise to the norm, but it is even more important because her birthday is so close to Christmas. It didn’t happen this particular morning. I comforted myself in the fact that this year I was going to actually have the time to make and decorate her cake, even if the paper and streamer decorations weren’t there to greet her when she awoke.
I set about pulling out the crumb frosted cake to begin its transformation. I picked out the colors, I planned out the design and went to work. My frosting was having trouble keeping a good consistency. I had color all over my fingers and icing leaking out of decorator bags. I’m not the neatest cake decorator, or cook for that matter, but this was beyond ridiculous. Mark tried to comfort me, and at the point he hugged me trying to make it better, we both knew it was best for him to vacate the kitchen premises.
I managed to get some nice borders piped, and then started on the floral portions. Did I mention the icing wasn’t firm enough? More frustration. Then, it happened. A decorator’s disaster! A big blob of yellow icing appeared on the front of the cake as a result of a burst bag. Of course, it didn’t help matters that I had decided to use a disposable bag rather than a heavy duty one.
Great! Just Great! What am I going to do now?
Punt. I’m going to do what a million mom’s have done before and make the best of a difficult situation. Swirled frosting. I can make it look more impressionistic and just swirl all the colors together.
Jesus talked about bags that could burst in His parable about new wine in old wineskins. See Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22 and Luke 5:33-39. The old cannot contain the new during the transformation process. The pressure created with fermentation of the wine will destroy an old bag that can no longer adjust and yield.
That can happen to us as people. When we become rigid in our lives through religious practices, or the inability (a.k.a. unwillingness) to surrender to God’s plans for our lives, the outcome can be less than desirable at best and devastating at worst.
I’ve been learning to hold things more loosely. For a planner this is difficult. I find solace in structure and in knowing what to expect. If the plan is going to change, my preference is to have a head’s up so that I have time to adjust my expectations. However, in ministry this just isn’t a realistic expectation.
Adjusting on the Fly
It is becoming more normal to have to adjust on the fly. Scheduling is frequently impacted by this new value of holding things loosely. God has a way of causing my schedule to fit my needs or the needs of others even if I hadn’t anticipated that need. He cancels appointments when I’m functioning but not thriving. He shifts appointments to the benefit of the one that most needs my time at the moment. He sets up Divine appointments even when neither participant thought that was why we were going to meet. You get the idea. He sees the big picture over the minutia. I see the momentary things and attempt to be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there.
Mark and I said a long time ago that if God would open the door, we would walk through it. We made that commitment without the condition of knowing what is on the other side of the threshold. This commitment requires us to hold everything loosely; our dreams, goals, family, finances, friends, house, ministry, including when we get to utilize the gifting He gave us and walk in the call or destiny that He preordained for us. In other words, we have decided to submit our will to His.
Holding Things Loosely
There are days that holding things loosely translates into looking at what humanly looks like a disaster. Days when you cannot understand how He is going to work any of this out for good; homeless days, days when you don’t get a paycheck, days when there are no speaking engagements lined up, days when more clients “no-show” than keep their appointments and you could have used the time for other appointments or tasks, days when the yellow icing plops out of the bag and lands front and center on your proverbial cake.
God restores disasters and provides hope for us. He makes beauty out of ashes (all those things that you are ashamed to tell anyone about can be used for good). Holding things loosely doesn’t just apply to our schedules and dreams. It also applies to our history. Our history isn’t our identity. It is something that happened to us; something we survived. Holding onto the damaging pieces of our past creates a victim instead of allowing us to walk in freedom and victory. God is the Redeemer. He can use your tragedy to minister to a wounded soul in a way that another lacking such an experience may be unable to. You can permit the spirit of resistance, but in choosing so, both you and the other individual He brought into your path will suffer the consequences.
Let Go and Refocus
Being willing to let go of my initial vision of the birthday cake was imperative. It was the only way I could move forward with a new design. The cake actually turned out even better than I imagined once I let go of the preconceived plan and worked with what was present. Are you holding on to something you expected at the expense of the restoration God has for you? Open your hand, hold it loosely. He may want to give you something more beautiful than you could ever envision.
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