Crying, cake, and the grace of God
Two days in a row, I cried. Two days in a row, I had cake. Two days in a row, I stood in a house of worship and watched dear friends make big life decisions “official.”
I cried on Saturday, June 26, when my friend Tonell walked down the aisle with her father to the sound of Sade singing, “You think I’d leave your side, baby / You know me better than that … ”
Tonell and I are close friends from college, but we no longer live in the same town or see each other often. I’d only met her fiancé a few weeks earlier. I didn’t expect to cry at the wedding. I was wrong. She and her dad (who looked as if he’d cry at any second) talked quietly as he escorted her to her future husband. I saw her and her father, I saw how happy she looked, I heard that song, and I just lost it for a minute.
During the vows, the minister said, “Do you take this man to be your husband — ” and Tonell immediately said, “I do.”
The minister continued, “ — to have and to hold … ”
Tonell’s eyes went wide and she ducked her head sheepishly as we all laughed. She’d jumped the gun. Later, she smeared wedding cake on her husband’s face but wouldn’t let him retaliate (wedding makeup, hello!). He didn’t press the issue. Smart man.
I cried on Sunday, Jun 27, when my pastor for the last decade, David Hederman, preached his last sermon at Grace City Church in Jackson. Specifically, I cried at the end of the service when the children’s minister was praying, when she thanked God for David’s three boys. I’m not close with the boys. I don’t babysit them or even volunteer in their Sunday school rooms. But that’s what got me.
After church we all had sheet cake in the foyer, and I gave David a card I’d written for him and his wife, April. Then I left before I could be confronted by more emotions.
So like I said, it was crying and cake for two days in a row. But why was I crying over these people? Y’all might think it’s obvious, but you know how I like to analyze stuff.
Though David is a great preacher, that’s not why his leadership at Grace City meant so much to me. It was his kindness, his honesty about his own foibles, and his willingness to get in the trenches, whether that meant laying out foam flooring in the nursery or praying for my family in the parking lot when he could’ve said (truly) that he had somewhere to be.
I don’t love my friend Tonell because she’s perfect or does everything right. I love her for that face she made after saying “I do” too early. I love her for her blunt, no-nonsense way of talking about everyday life, and for the way we always seem to pick up where we left off after not seeing each other for a while. I love her for her.
The question is, do I think about my relationship with God the same way? Do I only want “a good sermon” in which God tells me what to do, or do I want Him with me in the trenches? Do I want to earn His love and friendship, or will I rest in the fact that He already loves me, funny faces and all? Will I rest in the fact that He’s poured out His love for me freely?
If you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and you know He died for your sins and rose again, you have more than just a moral code to follow. You have a relationship with Almighty God, who loves you. I pray that’s what we all want.
Not law, but grace.
Not a to-do list, but a relationship.
Not a sermon, but a Person.
There’s nothing wrong with the law, to-do lists or sermons. In fact, they’re all great things. But they can’t provide freedom from sin. Only Jesus Christ can do that. I pray we’d rest in Him, today and always. y
● Our cover story on Bubba and Lea Holifield and their life of service
● Our interview with Madison Alderman-at-Large Sandra Strain
● Our feature on Word of Life’s Ridgeland campus