One Teaspoon

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Lessons from Making Chocolate Cake

I made a cake yesterday for our dorm boys, the smaller group of six of whom my husband is “in charge.” He’s sort of their parent in Chattanooga, since their parents are spread out all over the world.

Between the cake and its ganache frosting, I used three-and-a-half sticks of butter and almost two bags of dark chocolate chips. There was a good bit of sugar (a pound … plus all the chocolate!), eggs, flour, the usual suspects. It was a rich, dense cake that should have knocked my socks off.

But instead of the called-for two teaspoons of vanilla, I decided I would substitute one teaspoon with almond extract. Yes, I know that is a lot of almond flavor, but I usually adore almond extract in just about anything. I made my vanilla probably a year ago with bourbon, and to me it still smells like bourbon instead of vanilla. So instead of saturating the cake with bourbon flavor, I went with some almond.

It was a mistake.

I could smell it a mile away with my very strong sniffer. The cake was permeated with cheap almond extract, taking away from the richness of the dark chocolate and good sugar and butter. One teaspoon of almond was all it took to fight through the rest of the strong flavors.

Maybe it’s silly, but it made me think of sin.

We can be rolling along pretty well, but there’s one sin issue that we just can’t seem to let the Spirit conquer. Fear? Overeating? Acting in anger? (Guilty on all counts.) It seems small in comparison to all the good in our lives, all the obedience we have, but it’s there. Seeping into other areas of our life, separating us from the Godhead. It permeates as quickly as a teaspoon of clear, pungent extract. It can eat up all the sweetness we have.

You can’t cover up the flavor of sin with dark chocolate ganache. Or with good deeds or wanting it badly or washing yourself from head to foot. All you can do it start again, asking for forgiveness from the One who says His mercies are new every morning.

In that repentance is a promise both ways, His to cleanse and yours to let Him be the one in control.

Just like I will probably never make a perfect chocolate cake in my lifetime, short of heaven we will never be perfect. We’ll probably return to the same sins again. But as we become more willing and able to let Him take control, the sin that seemed so enticing becomes dull compared to life with Him.

I won’t be making chocolate cake with almond extract again any time soon. And I pray that I can remember this lesson a baking experiment taught me yesterday.

image source: Arrqh via Flickr Creative Commons

2 thoughts on “One Teaspoon

  1. WOW! This was very insightful, Jessie… And just what I needed to read today! I had a counseling appointment on Tuesday, as I struggle with depression. I had just confessed to Tony, my counselor, that I have recently come to the realization that I have a lot of jealousy. I have noticed that I frequently feel down after scrolling through my Facebook feed and I think it’s because I am comparing myself to others who seem “better off”. But, it REALLY hit me the other day that it was absolutely out of control. We were visiting some friends who are doing very well for themselves, financially. I took notice that every time we visit, they have new decor in their spotless home that already looks like a magazine ad. They, like us, have four children. Molly is a stay at home mom, like me, yet they can afford all of this as well as the best clothes, frequent traveling, etc. When we got home, I began comparing myself and our situation and I started to cry. Perhaps part of this was hormones, however that doesn’t excuse, nor does it change the fact that I am giving into sin for doing this. I know I shouldn’t covet what they have. They are wonderful people and God has been good to them. They deserve that. What’s more, God has been good to US. We may live paycheck to paycheck but we are also doing that on one income and we make it work. The Lord has blessed us with four beautiful children who are happy and HEALTHY. All I ever wanted was to be able to spend my time with them.

    My counselor is great and has really helped me, but his answer to me was that I’m feeling this way because I’m not doing enough for myself and/or not taking care of myself. While I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about and this may be part of the problem, I think YOU just hit the nail on the head. I gave into sin. I started to envy and that is overpowering my once bubbly personality. I am letting it quelch my joy. I have been praying for God to help us find a way to be more financially secure, BUT what I really should be praying about, is for Him to help me to be thankful for all the blessings in my life and to not be jealous. It may be difficult, but all I can do, is to start over each day and try harder. I should continually ask Him to help me remove the envy from my life. He Is the only one who can change me.

  2. You gave me a little church right here in Starbucks this morning. I am in a “time out” after a total angry outburst. 🙁 That one teaspoon of mine made quite the mess this morning. What a gift from God that we are loved all the same.

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