I worked very hard with a patient friend to make Esther’s birthday cake last week. The result of five hours hard graft was really rather splendid. It was just as I’d imagined, but a lot better, because I had had so much able assistance. I carried the cake carefully to the garage and placed a large bucket on top with a sign on saying “DO NOT TOUCH – BIRTHDAY CAKE” – mainly for the benefit of the gardener who has been doing some brick-laying and was a bit free with his sand. Call me old-fashioned, but I didn’t fancy cake with bits of mortar in every mouthful”¦ I’m not into exfoliating my teeth.

The day of the party arrived and I went out the garage an hour early to retrieve the precious object. Imagine my horror when I saw just the edge of the cake poking out from underneath the bucket, with blackened marks all over it. About to get very cross with the gardener, I lifted up the bucket and gasped.

I had placed the cake onto a board that I had then covered in icing and decorated with leaves, flowers and ladybirds – all painstakingly and lovingly made from icing sugar.

Most of the flowers had gone completely, but some were left but just ever-so-slightly chewed. The green icing – that had been perfectly flat and clean and wonderfully flat (grrrrr!!) – was now blackened and covered in tiny deep footprints. The unmistakable work of an opportunistic mouse! (or perhaps an entire crew of micelets?)

I was momentarily frozen to the spot. This was a 1 year old’s birthday party. I knew that Esther would have NO clue that she was going to have a cake, or not. But a lot of other people knew about it. I checked the actual cake for damage. Miraculously there was none. It was intact. Obviously mousey was not a mountain climber. (Although he may have become a kind of “Lot’s wife” made of solid sugar?! I can imagine him swaying out of the garage on some kind of major drugged-up-E-number-induced-high.)

I raced into the kitchen and pressed my mother-in-law into speedy service as “Operation Mouse” began in full swing. Baby wipes and sharp knives were hastily found with military precision as we tried to clear the worst of the telltale signs of rodent. I made a few more flowers to cover up the most obvious of the paw prints. It actually looked ok by the time the big moment came. Nothing like it had… but enough to get by.

I didn’t tell anyone at the party about my little ‘fiend’. I figured it was better not to. Esther was delighted with her cake and pointed at all the figures on the top. That was enough for me. The following day I threw the whole thing, uncut and uneaten into the bin. Then I sighed. Because I knew it was my fault.

Do you know something? Sometimes we are so careful about making something, setting something up for God, but we do not then protect and guard it. How many people do you know have built something precious; a company, a ministry, a marriage, only for it to be ruined in days by lack of wisdom, an affair, financial impropriety or lack of accountability? It takes years to build reputation and seconds to lose it.

My experience this weekend has taught me that I need to invest in an industrial strength and size cake box. It also made me dwell on the other things in my life that are valuable… the people, the mission and the plans.

Think about what the enemy may want to attack in your life. What is it that you hold precious? Get out there with some prayer and some spiritual warfare to guard and defend what you love. Oh, and don’t forget the mouse trap.