(Since we're coming up on Father's Day, I'm re-posting a favorite piece that I wrote two years ago. There's also some "house news" at the end.)
A CAKE FOR GOD
It was the first thing I saw when I walked into my office. It was just sitting there on my desk, accompanied by an envelope emblazoned with one simple word. “God.”
It’s not every day in my work as a pastor’s wife and church secretary that I come across a greeting card for God, especially when it’s attached to a festively frosted cake from Walmart.
I circled warily around the items for a few moments, trying to figure out exactly what to do with them. I felt a bit uncomfortable about reading a card addressed to God, but then again I felt fairly certain that whoever had brought it to the church would assume that a church type person would eventually open it. And since a pastor’s wife is about as “church type person-ish” as they come, I finally decided it was okay for me to take a peek inside the mysterious envelope.
It turned out to be a Father’s Day card, painstakingly signed by two boys in our church whose dad lives in another state and is no longer involved in their lives.
A Father’s Day card for God.
After I finished reading the card, I looked through my tears at the top of the cake and noticed for the first time the words that were written in red. “Happy Father’s Day, God.”
I was touched . . . heartbroken . . . inspired. And deeply moved.
But I was also confused. What was I going to do with the cake?
This cake, delivered to the church by two fatherless boys, was nothing less than a sacred offering, given straight from their lonely hearts to a Father they knew would never leave them or forsake them. What should be done with a cake that represented the longing, loving yearning of their hearts? I couldn’t just take it home, throw it on the kitchen table and say to my family, “Hey everyone! Dig in!” And yet I couldn’t see any sense in letting it sit in the office. That would certainly do nothing to honor the boys’ tender gesture.
By the time I had spent a few minutes thinking through my options, it was time to go to another part of the church for a women’s meeting. I said hello to the other ladies who had gathered and made a special point of greeting Miss Edith with a hug since it was her sixty-fourth birthday.
It was a long meeting and when it finally came to an end, I had one goal and one goal alone. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go to bed. I wanted to get a good book and put on my pajamas and I wanted the world to go away. The month prior to that evening had been a difficult one for me on many levels and I felt like I was coming perilously to the end of a very short rope.
I quickly said my good-byes, got the cake from my office (still not certain what I was going to do with it) and pulled out of the parking lot with lovely visions of soft sheets and serene silence dancing in my head.
I had only gotten about ten seconds down the road when I heard a Voice in my heart say, “Invite Edith to your house for some birthday cake.”
“But I want to go home,” I whined in return. “I want to be quiet. I want to refrain from speaking another word to another human being for at least twelve hours.”
And just to make sure the Voice had no chance of getting through to me, I started singing. Loudly. Zealously. Enthusiastically.
I sang the first tune that popped into my head which just happened to be “Pomp and Circumstance.” Louder and louder I warbled, trying desperately to drown out the Voice.
It didn’t work.
“Invite Edith to your house for birthday cake.”
The Voice came through loud and clear. Louder and clearer even than my frantic, bombastic rendering of the classic tune.
I sighed. I stopped singing. I turned around and headed back to the church thinking, “It’s probably too late; I bet everyone has already left.”
But no, Miss Edith was still there, just pulling out of the parking lot, en route to her empty house. I thought about how I would feel if it were my mom in a small apartment a thousand miles from family on her birthday and all at once, I didn’t feel so tired. I didn’t feel so compelled to go hide under my blankets. I just pulled up right beside her, buzzed down my window and hollered, “Miss Edith, do you like cake?”
That beautiful smile of hers burst forth like a thousand suns in an ebony sky as she replied, “I sure do!”
I said, “Well then, follow me!”
And so off we went, a hastily formed convoy consisting of one recalcitrant pastor’s wife, bearing a cake for God, followed by one beatifically beaming, birthday guest.
I escorted Miss Edith into the house, sat her down at the kitchen table and then went upstairs to explain the situation to my 12-year old daughter, Sarah. She immediately got into the spirit of things and followed me downstairs to give Miss Edith a birthday hug.
After I had put candles on the cake, Sarah and I formed an official birthday processional of two; we marched and sang, bearing the shining cake aloft, while Edith smiled and clapped along. I got out birthday napkins, added ice cream and we were ready for the party to begin! I was confident Miss Edith’s smile couldn’t get any bigger.
I was wrong.
When my husband, Steve, arrived home a few minutes later, I explained the story of the cake. I told Edith about finding the cake in my office and not knowing what to do with such a priceless “heart gift. I shared with her that she must be a pretty special lady because why else would two little boys with no father decided to buy a cake for God only to have God tell a weary pastor’s wife that Edith needed to have a cake and a party on her birthday? Edith’s moist eyes and enormous smile made it clear just how touched she was.
While Steve continued to visit with Edith, I raced upstairs and put together a gift bag, all done up with tissue paper. As I presented her with the bag, she looked like I had just handed her the Hope diamond. And as I looked at her shining face I realized that hope can show up in way many ways, sometimes even in the form of two fatherless boys and a cake.
It was an exhilarating experience to be a small part of His big plan, a plan so perfect that it couldn’t be derailed by discouragement, it couldn’t be sabotaged by a weary pastor’s wife, it couldn’t even be drowned out by several stanzas of Pomp and Circumstance.
Being a part of God’s plan meant that I got to see Him take into His hands the sorrow of small boys, wrap it up in love and then transform it into a gift of hope for a lonely heart.
In other news, we were all really excited because we were scheduled to close on our house today. Unfortunately, Steve found out about half an hour ago that the loan didn't go through.
Our banker is working rather feverishly on another plan so that we can till have the closing done by June 30 and qualify for the $6500 tax credit.
We were all pretty pumped up about signing the papers today, so it's quite disappointing. Steve especially has a lot of time and effort invested; he's spent at least 15-20 hours over the past few months working very diligently on getting the massive amount of paperwork together. He was more than ready to get it off his plate and get on with life.
Which reminds me of a funny thing that happened this week. Steve got a call from the banker's secretary who said there was a sheet missing from one of our recent bank statements. She said it would probably say, "This page left blank on purpose."
And guess what? The bank still needed that page. So Steve came home, made a copy of the blank page that said, "This page left blank on purpose" and drove 40-minutes round trip to deliver it to the bank.
He and I have made a number of major purchases over the 28 years of our marriage and he said he has never in his life dealt with more complexity than in the process of getting this loan.
When banks start asking for blank pieces of paper--well, that's a bit much!
From the Comment Section:
Nancy asked for more info about the port that is part of my tissue expander.
Nancy, the port does has a very small chance of infection but not as bad as a central line. And yes, it will be removed in September when the expanders are replaced with the permanent implants.
(And thanks, Stephanie, for jumping in there and helping answer the question; we're a team around here!)