A mom decided she was going to bake a cake for her family. She was a fabulous cook and had never made a bad cake, but she loved her husband and two children and wanted to make the best cake she had ever made. She got out all her cookbooks and files and poured over all her favorite recipes as well as ones she’d never made before.
No, she thought, these will never do. I need something new and different.
She went to the library and checked out 17 new cookbooks with nothing but cake recipes in them. She learned about the science and chemistry of different types of flour, baking powder and baking soda, what kind of sugar or sugar substitute would give the best flavor and texture.
Not completely satisfied, she took to the Internet to research new ingredients she’d never heard of before.
Somehow, three weeks evaporated in her hunt for the perfect cake recipe and she hadn’t even gotten her mixing bowl out of the cupboard yet.
Back on that first day, she had told her kids she would make them a cake, but that she was going to try a new recipe. Each day for three weeks they had asked if today was the day. Each time she explained she was still trying to find the perfect new recipe to try.
After a couple of weeks, her kids had grown impatient and then completely discouraged. They became resentful of all the time their mom was spending reading and studying cake recipes but never making one.
She came back from the library early one afternoon with the gleam of victory in her eyes. She had found an old cookbook in the antique book collection with traditional recipes from years ago with very wholesome ingredients.
Totally unaware of her children’s frustration, she gushed her excitement to them. But in utter despair, her daughter shouted, “Just make the cake already. We’re tired of you just reading recipes and studying about cakes. When are you going to make it?”
The mom got the message loud and clear. She realized she could have made any of the recipes she had found, and they probably would have been absolutely wonderful. She promised her kids she would make a cake later that afternoon and they would have it with dinner.
And so she did. That “perfect” recipe she’d found in the old cookbook from the library was simple and easy to follow. There were no weird ingredients or modern substitutes for traditional ones.
Finally the cake was mixed, poured into pans, and popped into the oven.
That night after she had cleared the dinner dishes from the table, she first brought out dessert plates and clean forks. She turned off the lights. The warm glow from the candles in the middle of the table gave off a warm cozy glow and increased the anticipation the children had felt all afternoon.
Back in the kitchen, she paused a moment in gratitude that she had finally baked her family the promised cake. She felt a bit silly for having taken so long to do such a simple task.
Full of joy, she presented her masterpiece to the expectant, watering taste buds in the dining room.
The children were delighted, and the only sounds to be heard were four forks and four pairs of smacking lips, two louder than the others, trying to be polite, but not very successfully.
Her son finished first and let out a big sigh of utter delight. “That was delicious, Mom. Why did it take you so long to make it?
“I wanted to have the perfect cake for you. And it took me while to find just the right recipe.”
“But Moooommmm,” her daughter said, “we like all the cakes you’ve ever made. They’re all good. You could’ve tried some of the other recipes. We wouldn’t mind being your guinea pigs.”
He husband had been quiet and not said a word during the frenzied three weeks of cake recipe research. But now, he broke his silence, as if talking to himself, “My mom used to make this exact same cake. I always loved it.” Then he added, “Honey, I think she gave you the recipe when we first got married. I don’t think you ever made it. I have no idea what ever happened to it. But I’m so glad you found that old cookbook. It sure brings back memories.”
She knew exactly where that recipe was. It was one of the first ones she found in her files on that first day three weeks ago. She actually had tried it early in her marriage, but she wasn’t the greatest cook then, and it hadn’t come out right.
The next morning she compared the yellowed recipe card her mother-in-law had given her those many years ago with the page in the old cookbook from the library. To her astonishment, they were exactly the same, word for word.
She’d had her cake last night. Now it was time for a piece of humble pie.
She could have made the “perfect” cake three weeks ago, or any cake, for that matter. But she got caught up in searching for some illusive ideal. It had become more about the search than the cake itself.
Next time, she vowed to herself, when she was searching for the “perfect” recipe, she would try things along the way to see what worked and what didn’t. She’d put her baking skills into practice each time instead of waiting so long to make a new treat for her family.
How often in our desire to be better Christians, do we tell ourselves we just need to find one more Bible verse and then we’ll have our answer? We spend time re-reading some favorite devotional for the hundredth time; we read books about how to have a deeper faith, and go to Bible study groups and talk about having greater faith.
But if we’re always reading, studying, searching, but not putting the things we learned into practice, we are like the mom who spent three weeks searching for what was right under her nose all along.
Paul warns Timothy of people who are “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (II Timothy 3:7 ESV)
If you’re always studying or talking about how Jesus said to think and act, but never doing it, you are like the mom who was studying recipes but never made a cake.
Sometimes you may feel that you don’t know enough and you need to keep studying and learning. But just as the mom already knew how to make a cake, you already have enough faith and understanding to put into practice.
Just perhaps, you don’t need to know the complexities of some controversial theological point. You just need to get back to the good old, traditional idea that God loves you.
Actually, it’s not about how much faith you have, how many Bible verses you study, or how many books you read. It’s about putting into practice however much faith you do have.
Remember the poor widow who put just two small copper coins into the collection at the synagogue? Jesus said she gave more than all the rich folks who poured in lots of money. She gave all she had.
Maybe you think your faith is too small to do much with. Not so! If all you have is “two mites” worth of faith, that’s plenty. Just give it all. Use all the faith you do have. And it will grow.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, he said all they really needed was faith as a grain of mustard seed. The idea is to plant the seed and it will grow. When you live your faith and practice what you already know, however small it may seem, in effect you are planting your mustard seed of faith and it will grow.
Sometimes we need to close our Bibles, get out of our “prayer chairs,” and venture out into unknown territory where we can put into practice our faith and our love for God and our fellow man.
So, go bake your cake already!
I hope you enjoyed this parable. Please share your thoughts below in the comments.
Blessings to you