To chose to laugh when things don’t go exactly the way we plan is a valuable skill to learn–especially when it involves what I like to refer to as, “hiccup moments.”* I experienced such a moment last week, and every time I think of it I still find myself with a cheesy grin on my face! Here’s what happened:
I was attending my Bible study’s special Christmas Luncheon with about ninety women and 40+ children. Prior to coming together for lunch the children sang several Christmas songs for the adult class, concluding the program with a rousing rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” (one of my personal favorites.) Their performance was loud and heartfelt, putting us all in an especially festive mood as we went into the multipurpose room for lunch.
One of the contributions I offer to the yearly Christmas Luncheon is a Birthday Cake for Jesus. It takes a bit of planning and preparation but it serves as a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas:
Birthday Cake for JesusOne cake iced with white icing. Washable plastic holly or other greenery to go around the cake 21 red birthday candles (hard to find but worth the effort) Any other relevant addition you have that tells part of the Christmas Story–I have a plastic star and a small baby in a manger I place in the middle.
This was the second year that the children were part of the luncheon (in previous years they had their own party) so they eagerly gathered around as I started lighting the candles. I had planned to have some of the older kids light the candles as I talked about what each part of the cake symbolized. However, I only had one of those lighter wands so I decided to light the candles myself, as quickly as I could, while talking about:The white icing ~ Represents the Purity of Christ The greenery ~ Represents Life Everlasting for all who trust in Jesus The 21 red birthday candles ~ Remind us of the Royalty of Christ and the Twenty-One Centuries that have passed since Jesus walked on the earth
Well, the candle lighting went more slowly than I planned and when I had about 12 of them lit I realized the lighter wand was running out of gas. I grabbed one of the lit candles and asked a couple of the older kids to do the same on the other side of the cake to finish lighting them all. I was down to the last candle when I noticed the littlest children in front of the cake were looking at me with slightly worried expressions on their faces. I glanced down to see that one of the silk pieces of holly decorating the front of the cake had caught fire (hence the requirement for plastic that isn’t so flammable!) I quickly tried to blow out the growing flames of the holly (as did several of the children) and suddenly it got very quiet in the room . . . the candles were all blown out and the cake was, quite dramatically splattered with the red candle wax across the top!
The children looked at me wide-eyed and stunned as I surveyed the damaged cake with lopsided candles that were too melted down to re-light. I swallowed hard, and in the next moment found myself laughing as I heard these words come out of my mouth: “Normally the candles would stay lit as we sang, ‘Silent Night’ and then ‘Happy Birthday to Jesus.’ Today we are going to use our imaginations as we think about Jesus as the Light of the world and sing our songs to Him.” And that is exactly what we did!
Reflecting back, the memory of what Christ did was not lost, if anything, I think the messiness made it all the more precious. The Christ Child was born in a barn filled with hay and smelly animals to parents who were tired and doing the best they could. There were no red candles, no greenery surrounding the feeding trough that held the baby. Even so, it was an evening of divine mystery that caused the heavens to open up as angels sang and shepherds left their flocks to see the newborn King.Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and Child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight; glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!
I have probably made forty or fifty Birthday Cakes for Jesus and have enjoyed the wonder of family, friends and strangers gathered to sing and savor those wondrous moments. Yet for me, seeing the worried looks of those little children turn to wonder as we sang, was the best reminder of God’s Perfect Plan of Redemption. Sometimes we have good intentions and get upset when our ideas do not pan out. What I am learning is that there are times when we take ourselves too seriously . . . that blessing abounds in those “hiccup moments” as we learn to trust God more.
All to His Glory!
*A “hiccup moment” can be determined by answering the following question: “In the light of eternity, how big is this?” If the answer is, that it is truly not all that important, then that can be referred to as a “hiccup moment.”