In the days of the Victorian era, a picnic in the English countryside was a fine affair. Baskets were carefully packed with meats such as lamb and beef, often put between hearty pieces of wheat bread and garnished with cheeses, lettuce, and celery. Drinks included lemonade and ginger-beer, as well as sherry for the adults to sip. Dessert completed the picnic meal and included homemade treats of cheesecakes, steamed puddings, and turnovers. All were enjoyed in lovely natural settings complete with chirping birds, wild flowers, and blue skies.
It was often a disappointment when those relaxing outdoor meals ended, reminding everyone that life isn’t a never-ending picnic with sunshine and soft breezes. We can plan and prepare, believing for sunshine, feasting, and happy conversations. But sometimes what we get are ants, bees, and the threatening sound of distant thunder. Hardships and trials come to all of us. How well the author of the Book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul, knew this truth. Yet he is the very one to encourage us as Christ-followers to move forward in the face of adversity:
So ever since we first heard about you, we have kept on praying and asking God to help you understand what he wants you to do; asking him to make you wise about spiritual things; and asking that the way you live will always please the Lord and honor him, so that you will always be doing good, kind things for others, while all the time you are learning to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-11
“I don’t know if I should, but I judge people by their picnics,” said Lady Moyra Cavendish, an English woman who lived during the times of those lovely Victorian picnics. But it is how we live between the picnics of life that will matter the most and leave its mark on the world. Paul was thrown in prison more than once, his life was threatened, he had an unnamed thorn in the flesh that vexed him with no relief. Yet, forgiven by Christ, he lived a life that no one can judge to be ineffective or self-serving. May others be able to say of each of us that we served God well and trusted in His kindness, not only on days filled with sunshine, but in between picnics.