The food I ate. It looked like this.
Yep. It was seriously a lot of food.
I wasn't alone. I mean, the beautiful people who joined me on this rather epic eating excursion also ate enough food to feed a small country.
Check out our excessively full table.
So, this place is an all you can eat buffet restaurant, hotel, onsen and water park about 15 minutes drive out of Sapporo city which Kayoko totally loves.
Which means we come here when there's any kind of reasonable excuse to go and eat yourself into a food coma but have an absolutely awesome time doing it. (I'm kidding. I eat a lot here but I'm not that much of a glutton and it's normally my only main meal of the day when I do. I promise.)
It's appropriately named 'Gateaux Kingdom'.
I mean, if there was ever a restaurant that would win me over by it's name alone, it would be one that literally indicated that you could go and eat a castle of cakes.
Because I *cough* super love cakes.
And because it does feel like you can literally go and do that here.
And as I was thinking about Gateaux Kingdom being a pretty appropriate name, my strangely-wired-brain hopped over to the Kingdom of God.
This mysterious-yet-obvious-yet-paradoxical Kingdom of God that Jesus said had come and yet still was coming. That which we live in and yet still hope and pray for.
This kingdom that Jesus outlines for us so clearly in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. This Sermon on the Mount that changes us from the inside-out so that we walk radically upside-down and change the world.
It's not such an obviously labelled kingdom.
Not in the ways we want anyway.
I mean, the Jews at the time of Jesus wanted it to mean literal and political revolution.
And we often want this kingdom to mean comfort and security and physical prosperity.
We really want it to mean blessing on our own terms.
(Which often means that we can accumulate material wealth, or good jobs or big houses and call ourselves 'blessed' by God for the sake of living for His Kingdom.)
I read a great blog by Jamie Wright on this issue of 'blessing' the other week that I think relates to this. She wrote:
Blessed doesn't really mean what we think it means, because most of the time when we use the word blessed what we really mean is pleased… We've created a culture in which we measure God's 'blessings' in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being…
Blessed does not mean pleased. Blessed does not mean happy. Blessed does not mean fulfilled. It doesn't even mean fed or clothed or housed or healthy…
What it really means is that you are not alone, for God is with you.
God's blessing is His presence.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Just the Creator of the Universe, the artist and architect of Heaven and Earth, the Bringer of Light, the Weaver of Life, the One who knows you and loves you best of all, finding you in life's most broken places and breathing into your weary soul, 'I am that I am, and I am with you.
I love this. I agree with this. I am challenged by this.
Because I genuinely want a life that shines as a Jesus-loving-Kingdom-of-God person.
But that means that I have to take the Kingdom of God of the terms Jesus outlines rather than by the ones that culture tells me are popular or relevant just now.
And Jesus makes the Kingdom of God look less obvious and more humble.
Actually His Kindgom is darn-all-out-uncomfortable to my flesh, but life breathing to my spirit.
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Gateaux Kingdom is pretty cool. If you love cake and are in Sapporo I completely recommend it.
But I wish God's Kingdom came as easily and obviously to me.
I wish that my life radiated with a sign that said Kingdom-of-God instead of kingdom-of-Peta.
And I'm praying that I start to get it, and live it and breathe it a whole lot more.
It's also what I'm praying for you today.
And here are some more of our happy-gateauxy-times from today.