I quite like aeroplane food… I know most people don't. It's not necessarily about the taste, but the fact that it is all so cutely packaged and neatly compartmentalised! There aren't usually many choices about what you can have, which also makes for an uncomplicated decision… chicken, or beef!

But as I think about that packaged food on that aeroplane, I also can't imagine it being further away from it's natural environment…

Isn't packaging so great?! It's so tidy, sterile, and you can make life so convenient with it! Something about it just screams “easy!”, especially when it's food. Little time, no mess, and certainly no growing or cultivating required! How appealing.

I wonder if we do the same thing with life sometimes… I wonder if we “package” things and give “easy answers” when, sometimes, there aren't any. Perhaps life is more like a messy garden, with dirt and weeds and worms… and real life happening. I also wonder if we “package” the Bible sometimes too… somehow things are much easier when we take a piece of scripture and package it, sterilising it from its intended context and making it seem so… convenient and easy. “Three easy steps to a great prayer life”, “just have enough faith and they will be healed”, “God will always protect you, so therefore nothing bad will happen to you”… but looking at the life of other faithful followers of Jesus, and Jesus's own life, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case. Things seem… messier. But real things are growing. 

In John's account of his time with Jesus, he recalled a time when Jesus told a large group of followers some things that were difficult to understand. He didn't even package what He had to say very nicely, or even explain what He meant. Most of them walked away from Him. To the rest of His disciples, He turned and asked “You don't want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67). Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]”.

When I went through some hard times that I didn't understand, I was looking for answers too… but there didn't seem to be any. God seemed to have gone quiet. I was angry, and was tempted to walk away. Nothing made sense. Life seemed to have fallen apart, and I wanted to blame God. But as time went by, He showed me that I don't always need to know why, I just needed to know who He is, how much He loves me, and that He is all I need. That's what Peter knew, because He'd been with the One who gave true life, and there was no turning back after that.

More and more, I love these parables Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven:

Matthew 13:44-46  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Everything… it was worth giving up everything. That hidden treasure, that pearl of great value, that Kingdom, was worth giving up everything else. That's what Peter knew too. And in the end, all of those who had been with Jesus knew it too. He's all we need.

Although it's still a journey I'm on, I think I trust Him more now that I know life is more like a (very!) messy garden, and I won't always know what's going on. But in the “garden” with Him, there is true life…

Ecclesiastes 3:11  “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

This is one of my favourite songs, that encapsulates this so perfectly: