George Bowers Sr.: The icing on the cake
February was always an exciting month in our home as we celebrated the birthdays of my mother, brother, nephew, niece and several cousins in this short 28-day span. We even had a great aunt who was born on Leap Day, so this month kept mom busy baking cakes for everyone’s special day. She would always take our orders for flavor and in earlier days, our preferences for design as well. Before specially shaped cake pans became affordable, she relied on a book with instructions for several differently shaped cakes that could be built from basic squares, circles, and rectangles. Over the years, she constructed many elephants, monkeys, lions, cars, and more depending on our inclinations.
After mixing, baking, and then arranging the cake pieces, the final steps involved icing and decorating. Having baked a few cakes myself, I’ve learned that icing a cake isn’t as easy as it looks. With little or no effort, one can easily pull off the top of the cake and embed millions of tiny crumbs in the unforgiving icing.
But I’ve also learned something else. If you develop even a basic amount of skill, you can use the icing to cover your imperfections and mistakes. If the cake baked unevenly or if it stuck coming out of the pan, or if a piece happened to tear off in the process, you can often cover such mishaps with generous amounts of icing. And since most cake eaters prefer lots of icing anyway, there’s no harm and no foul.
Using icing to cover our cake mistakes reminds me of a recipe from the Bible for covering each other’s faults. Because we are all selfish imperfect humans, our flaws are many and deep and create issues for those around us. In our interactions over the course of a day, it is easy to “stick a little” and react “unevenly.” While our natural inclination is to highlight such failures and mistakes, our relationships will be stronger if we utilize God’s icing formula instead.
We find this wonderful technique in 1 Peter 4:8 where we are told, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Such a simple but effective method. Instead of drawing attention to the shortcomings of each other, how much better to ice over them with deep love that comes from our hearts. I’m not talking about ignoring serious issues that need to be addressed, but about those daily irritations that arise with our mates, children, co-workers and neighbors that are often best forgiven and covered with generous portions of love.
As we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s recognize the healing power of true deep love that overlooks the faults and imperfections of others just as icing can cover a multitude of cake baking sins. And let’s ask the author of love, God himself, to enable us to do so for we can’t give to others what we don’t first have ourselves. Because of his great love, the blood of his son covered our sins that we might appear holy and perfect in his sight, and his inexhaustible supply provides more than enough icing for whatever challenges we may face in others. Let’s share his love with each other as the icing on our cakes.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at email@example.com.