Picnic baskets have always fascinated me. How do you pack the perfect basket? Lunch for two, three, four or more? Maybe some fried chicken legs, cheese, grapes, and oh how about pumpernickel squares. Cool drinks, glasses, plates, forks, knives, red checkered tablecloth, vase for wildflowers. Gather it all up, get your basket out, start to pack and unpack, arrange and rearrange until you get it all packed in.
Perfect picnic plans in the making.
Right now, I feel like life ain’t no picnic for me. I thought I had the perfect picnic plan. I thought I packed the basket with everything needed. I thought I safely secured the basket in the trunk of my car and no matter what turns, swerves, ascents, descents, speeds, abrupt stops or smooth moves the car would make, it could withstand it all. I thought I found the perfect spot to lay out my red checkered tablecloth. I thought I sent the text invite to those I hoped would join me for this perfect picnic. Thought I packed enough food. Thought the weatherman said, “partly cloudy skies, high temperature of 75 and no chance of rain.”
Well seems like maybe I thought a little too much about my perfect picnic only to begin discovering that things got jostled in the commute, someone else took my perfect spot, I never hit “send” on the text message, and who invited the ants and the rain to this picnic?
Where do all the pieces go?
Hard situations often leave me standing looking at the pieces wondering how it will all fit in my basket? How does this fit into my life, fit into my head, fit into my heart, where do all the pieces belong? What goes in the basket and what gets left behind? I’m prone to replaying and analyzing situations I’ve encountered. I replay conversations had with others over and over in my head, heck, sometimes I repeat the conversation out loud. I wonder “why did I do or say such and such” or “what did she mean when she said this or that?” I like timelines. I like puzzles but not your average jigsaw puzzle, I like life puzzles. Trying to figure out why things happen the way they do or what does it all mean. I try to make it all fit nicely and neatly in the basket and I have to admit sometimes I drive myself crazy trying.
What college did you attend?
So, I’ve sort of discovered through a process called “Free Writing” (maybe I’ll blog about that next time), I’d like to write about the lessons I’ve learned. When people ask me, the once dreaded questions; “what college did you attend?” I would respond with embarrassment; “College? Uh Me? Attend? Um, well, I’ve only taken a couple of college classes.” While wrestling with this embarrassment and talking to the Lord about it, He gave me, I believe a very cleaver answer. In fact, now I find myself eagerly waiting the “where did you attend college” question or, I may even just voluntarily give the answer; “Actually, I attend….the University of Life and I’m a life time student! Haven’t even earned my diploma yet, as a matter of fact, I believe you and I are classmates, none of us has graduated LU, that is if you’re still breathing and walking around this earth.
Back to picnic baskets…let’s open our baskets together and see what each of us brought. Remember picnics are for sharing. I’ll go first, in my basket today is Romans 12, one of my favorite passages, (well, I actually have many) Romans 12:4-5 says;
4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
And Romans 12:9-14
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit,serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. (I think God invented picnic baskets, said Tina)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Life was like a picnic every day.
I remember when i was a very little girl at home with mom every day, life was good. I was happy. I knew my mom was near by and I could go to her anytime I needed her. Yes, life was like a picnic for me every day. Until…mom got a job! (I’m not knocking working moms here, I’ve been there myself)
I remember following mom around the house while she was getting ready to leave, having a sick, butterflies in my stomach feeling (called nervousness), and when she went to the door, I followed her. As she turned to tell me she was leaving, I boldly proclaimed, “if you leave me, I’m going to throw up!” Day after day this routine continued; mom getting ready for work, me following her around, me sitting in front of the door saying “If you leave me, I’m going to throw up.”
Finally mom took me to the doctor to see if I had something wrong with my stomach. I don’t remember, actually throwing up, or if mom was just worried because I kept saying I was going to. I’m not sure what type of tests I had. I remember being in a dark room, like where you go for x-rays and sitting on a cold steel table feeling like I had to use the bathroom but the nurse kept telling me to “hold it for just a little bit longer.” There wasn’t a thing wrong with me.
Blessings in shared lessons.
Now, that is one very strange memory, but it’s where I began to learn that life is meant to be shared, that we are interconnected and when we are separated from one another, it’s scary and sometimes our hearts hurt. I eventually learned that being away from someone did not mean we were separated. We would come back together and we would open our picnic basket that we packed throughout the day and we would share the contents with each other.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work. The way I believe God tells us to “do life” together, to rejoice with each other, to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and to weep with each other. Sometimes rather than sharing life together, we stuff the contents of the day in our picnic basket and bury it, hoping it will decompose. So, yea, sometimes Life Ain’t no picnic and some times it is. The lesson and the blessing is; share it with others, the good, the bad, the ugly, you’ll be happy you did! I need you and you need me.
How about you? Are you willing to open up your picnic basket and pull out something to share with those around you? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? Does it make you ill? Does it make you healthy? Does it satisfy or leave you wanting “something” else?
Come on over, sit down on the red checkered picnic blanket and stay awhile. Let’s study our life lessons together. Why don’t you share a lesson you’ve learned from the University of Life in the comments below!