Cake for Anna

John was a baker. That was his identity. He started baking for his father when he was old enough to hold a spoon. He could bake a cake from scratch by the time he was 12. 

His sister Anna, on the other hand, never understood John. She wanted to create her own recipes. She loved to experiment with all of the flavors their father kept in the kitchen. Her ten-year-old mind wanted freedom!

One day, as John and Anna were baking together, Anna decided she wanted to try making a peppermint cake. 

“We don’t have a recipe for peppermint cake,” John told her.

“Well then I guess I’ll have to make one,” Anna replied. 

“Fine, but if you make Dad mad don’t come crying to me,” John said, and went back to stirring his chocolate cake. Two hours later, a horrible smell was coming from the oven. 

“Anna, is that your cake?” John asked. 

Anna’s eyes widened. “I don’t think it’s supposed to smell like that.” She went over to the oven and pulled out the steaming, bubbling concoction. Her head tilted to the side, and she smiled. “I guess my recipe didn’t work.”

Just then, Dad came into the kitchen. “What is that horrible smell?” he asked. 

Anna giggled. “It’s supposed to be peppermint cake.”

Dad frowned. “Do we have a recipe for peppermint cake?”

Anna looked down. “No, but it sounded good so I tried to make one.”

Dad sighed and ran his hand down his face. “Anna, you really should just try to get better at my recipes. We need more cakes for the shop.”

John made sure to keep his eyes on his bowl. This was bound to get worse.

Before he knew it, Anna was screaming at Dad, and Dad was barely staying calm. 

“You never let me be creative!” Anna yelled. “All I’ve ever wanted was to make something you’d be proud of, and you just yell at me for not doing it your way!”

The door slammed behind her as she left the room. 

Dad stared at the door for a long moment before walking through it quietly.

Alone in the kitchen, John stayed busy. He threw out Anna’s cake, and scrubbed the pans until no trace of the awful peppermint smell was left. He finished his own chocolate cake, making sure the frosting and decorations were just right. He washed his dishes, and swept the floor, making sure everything was perfect before he left for the night. 

John walked down the hallway silently, and knocked softly on Anna’s door. He opened it slowly. He didn’t want to startle her. 

His stomach dropped when she wasn’t there. He checked everywhere – under the bed, in the closet, behind her desk, but she wasn’t there. Anna was gone.  

John thought about telling Dad what had happened, but decided to go to his room instead. He sat on his bed and stared out the window. He wondered where Anna had gone.

“It doesn’t matter if she comes back,” John said to himself. “Maybe without Anna Dad will pay more attention to me. I’m going to focus on being the best I can.”

And that’s exactly what John did. Over the next few years, he became an even better student than before and mastered every recipe his father could come up with. He spent every day working for Dad, searching for any kind of recognition. 

Dad, on the other hand, seemed to only care about Anna. He kept her room the same way she left it, and cleaned it every day. He spent his nights on the phone, calling his friends from anywhere Anna might be. The only attention John received was when Dad tasted his baked goods before they were put up for sale. 

John refused to be discouraged. He pushed himself harder, and graduated baking school at the top of his class. He made the bakery more famous and successful than it had ever been, but it still didn’t seem like Dad cared about anyone other than Anna. 

One night, as John was cleaning up the kitchen from baking all day, Dad came in with tears running down his face. John looked up at him.

“I just got off the phone with Anna,” Dad said. “She’s coming home.”

John’s jaw dropped open. “Is she okay?” he asked. 

Dad just smiled. “She will be when she gets here,” he said. “I want you to bake your best cake for her. We’re going to celebrate!”

The next morning, John headed straight to the kitchen. He had a mission. He remembered that Anna’s favorite was strawberry cake. He got straight to work. Anna was coming home that night, so he didn’t have much time. He channeled all of his energy into making this cake for her. 

Around noon, Dad came into the kitchen to check on John’s progress. 

“I just cleaned her room and put sheets on the bed. I bought her a new dress, too. Do you think she’ll like that?” 

John smiled back at Dad. “Even if she doesn’t, she’ll love this strawberry cake!”

Dad’s eyes went to the layers of cake John was frosting. “I’m sure she will,” he said. His voice sounded distant, distracted.  Without warning, Dad turned and left the kitchen. 

John was suddenly angry. He had worked so hard to earn Dad’s recognition, and now it was being wasted on Anna, who had been gone for six years! John spent all afternoon working on his masterpiece in a silent, focused anger. 

Just as he was putting on the finishing touches, Dad came back. John looked up but said nothing. Dad just smiled.

“She’ll love it, John,” he said. 

“Do you love it?” John asked. 

Dad looked into John’s eyes. “Today is about Anna, John, not me.”

“Our whole lives have been about Anna,” John complained. “Why can’t you just pay attention to me for once? I’m the one that’s been here all along!”

Dad came closer. “John, you’ve always been a good kid. I’ve been here with you your whole life, and I always knew you’d have a future here. I couldn’t be more proud of you for that, but Anna is coming home today. Think of all she’s been through! She left, and now she’s coming back! I’m happy for her, and you should be too.”

Just then, the doorbell rang. 

Dad smiled at John and went running for the door. John hesitated, but followed.

Dad met Anna at the door and wrapped her in a tight hug. Anna was crying.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed. “I never should have left. Please take me back.” 

“Of course, Anna,” Dad said. He kissed her hair. “Of course.”

Anna broke the hug and looked at John. John realized how much he had missed Anna, and how happy he was to have her back. He felt bad for spending so much time trying to get attention for himself, when he should have been searching for his sister.

John went to Anna and gave her a hug. “I’m glad you’re home.”

God’s Way is Perfect, Even in Your Singleness

Many young people and young adults struggle with the conversation of dating and relationships. Thoughts cross the young person’s mind when they compare their present circumstances to those all around them. For many, they have a great desire to be married and raise covenant children out of that marriage, but they have no hope. They wonder, what is God’s purpose and will for my life? Where is He leading me if it is not in the way of marriage? If it is His will I marry, why can’t I be dating right now? I would certainly be happier in life if I were. We wallow in our miseries and dwell in the shadows of darkness and despair as if all joy in life is lost. 

Young person, your circumstances do not determine your joy. 

Think of Joseph; this man endured much hardship throughout his life. He was sold into slavery, tempted of Potiphar’s wife, and cast into prison. Nevertheless, he was at peace with God’s will for the events and circumstances that surrounded him. He trusted God had a purpose for his trials, and that “God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20). 

Think of Job; this man lost all his cattle, his possessions, his children, and his health. Yet still he trusted in God’s perfect plan for His life, confessing, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). 

Let’s expound on that verse for a little while. Oftentimes, we take more thought for our future than for our present, yet God has not promised that you will live even unto tomorrow. Your life “is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). You would do good to fix your eyes on the things of heaven and hope for the future of eternal life with God; to fix your eyes on your future earthly circumstances is to tempt you to fear, to doubt. When you look up to the almighty, sovereign God who has determined your path, you are able to find comfort in the midst of your present circumstances. You do not know what your future holds, that is true. But why use that uncertainty to fear or be dismayed? God continually throughout Scriptures calls his saints to “fear not” (Isaiah 41:10; 43:1). Young person, there is no reason to fear. God knows the path that you take, even this present one of singleness, and it will be for the good of your salvation. 

Perhaps you are contemplating, I know God is sovereign and has determined my path, but I still struggle to be content with the single life. Your flesh may seek to understand and discern why you must endure the trial of singleness. You must learn to trust Him. As Joseph trusted God through every situation he faced, may you also trust “because as for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). When you try to go further than God’s understanding and demand a reason, you will only be frustrated and complain; these reactions are the fruit of destruction. The fruit which beareth good reward is the fruit of contentment. “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Yea, even so in singeless, you are called to be content. Pray for God to grant you the strength wherewith you may fulfill this calling. 

If you truly desire to be married, do not grow weary. There are callings you have in this time of singleness. First, focus on growing closer in your relationship to God. As Rev. Engelsma shows forth in his book Dating Differently, “focus on becoming someone rather than finding someone.” You would be foolish to enter into a relationship if you are not spiritually mature; afterall, the purpose of dating is marriage. Ask yourself, are you ready to make that commitment? As husband and wife, you are to grow in Christ with each other. How can you build a foundation on God with another when you are not spiritually mature? Work on growing in your faith, and in due time if it is God’s will, “He will lead every man unto his wife”. 

Secondly, use this time of singleness to serve! Find ways to busy yourself serving God’s kingdom. Are there elderly people in your church you can visit or write letters to? Can you join a church committee and put forth your time there? Offer to babysit for busy mothers. There are plenty of ways to find time to serve and glorify God, other than contemplating your singleness and doubting the goodness of God in your life. 

Lastly, I give you the calling to pray. Come before the throne of God boldly! Pour out your desires before God that He may know the thoughts of your heart. We can be so doubting and despairing that we grow afraid and try to grasp for control, but you know God has said He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6-8). When you think He is gone and has forgotten you, be assured, He is with you alway. 

Therefore, continue to pray to your God who has promised to be faithful, who has promised to never leave you. When you feel alone and desire to find a spouse, remember and believe that you already have the purest and greatest love there is: the love of God for you. Oh, what an amazing truth to confess: 

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8: 38-39). What more could you possibly want?

Knowing the love that God has for you, go forth and trust that the one who loves you has a perfect plan for your life. You may not see how your trial of singleness will be for your good, but God’s promise remains fast. Every circumstance you endure was placed in your life for the good of your salvation. In everything you go through in your future, may you “rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God concerning Christ Jesus in you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Sources: 

  • Rev. David Noorman’s sermon, “He Knoweth the Path I Take” 
  • Rev. Cory Griess’ sermon, “The Tree of Thankfulness”
  • Rev. Joshua Engelsma’s book, “Dating Differently” 

Stephanie Holstege

Join us tonight for another workshop on evangelism with a question-and-answer panel on personal evangelism for young people and young adults. This workshop will be hosted by the Young Calvinists at Trinity PRC at 8:00 p.m. You will have the opportunity to ask questions focused on evangelism to a panel of men and women with evangelism experience.