Happy New Year! Long time no blog.
So today I want to take us to the Bake Off tent.
I wonder how many of you, like me, have the tendency to live life a bit like a contestant in the Great British Bake Off tent. NOT in terms of the amazing baking you do – not to imply anything whatsoever about your baking! – but in terms of your perspective on whatever it is you find yourself busy with.
Perspective in the tent is, after all very different! Attempts at dough or pastry that would be perfectly recoverable (even quite pleasing really) in real life go in the bin amidst a flood of tears in the tent. What would be the decision of a moment or even more likely just not cross our minds in our kitchens at home is researched and reworked for hours in the life of a Bake Off contestant. Minute variations and subtle combinations are analysed and agonised over and all under intense scrutiny! And quite right too! Given the context that is exactly the sort of perspective you would expect. How else would someone produce this…
The problem is that given a certain temperament, level of skill, a set of expectations (perceived or actual, coming from others or ourselves…) there is a cohort of us who – at least in part / on some level – are actually aiming for the end of each day to look pretty much like the scene above: a near perfect something to show for our efforts ready to be appreciated and validated by those who know about these things, and with all the mess and bother a thing of the past. A tangible triumph.
Not of baking necessarily…
Perhaps we would aim to have our children sitting up there swinging their legs, happy and eager to chat through the family devotional we had earlier in the day? Maybe we would are looking to produce a spread of nutritionally balanced food that has been enjoyed and appreciated? Or is it a thriving bible study group or one-to-one? A husband feeling tenderly loved? A well organised to-do list? A product from your craft or paid work – a patient you have really invested in and treated successfully, a brilliant diagnosis, a best seller, a positive comment from a colleague or mentor, a promotion, a qualification, a pupil who has come on leaps and bounds under your care….? Or a session at the gym / long distance run with all the right stats?
Even more worrying is that we might well be aiming for an element of all or most of those!
And so we have a ‘Bake Off Tent’ perspective on our days – the weight we place on each decision, the pain we suffer in failure, the panic in delay, the dismay when we see what other people are doing…
But what if we are in fact not contestants in the Bake Off Tent, but children making mud pies in the garden?
If we imagine we are aiming at this…
no wonder we feel depressed when we end up with this!
But what if we are only meant to be making mud pies?
What if we could be happy with an end of the day which looks more like this?
Which doesn’t give us permission to be lazy, slapdash or thoughtless; or to cheat people by being casual with their time, or the tasks they have entrusted to us. Nor does it diminish the value of what we do. It doesn’t render what we do unimportant or meaningless. No way! Those mud pies are to be made to the glory of God.
But it does mean that we need to remember that what’s at the end of the bench when time runs out is God’s domain – his masterpiece. We need to put aside our Bake Off tent perspective on our days and jobs and pick up the perspective of small, eager children helping and trusting their talented, patient Father.
You see – and this makes all the difference – our Father takes our very dishevelled looking, odd smelling, uneven, misshapen, sunken, overcooked, under-cooked, salt put in instead of sugar, piece of the baking paper baked into the cake, scraped off the floor….. creations and (jaw-droppingly) smiles in satisfaction and delight. Why? Because he has just the ingredients he intended at just the right time for the showstopper to stop all shows!
Or to mix my metaphors into my cake mixture – he takes our mud pies and lovingly plants a seed from which grows the most beautiful flower ever known.
To finish: a phrase that is not mine, but which I love: