I was hungry.
But just because the apartment had a refrigerator, didn't mean it had food.
My brother's place was a typical bachelor pad (this was premarriage). And visiting him periodically, I knew how to locate a few items, like dishes (in the sink), electronic devises (in every room), and everything else (in the closet). What I couldn't find was food.
He was out. I was there. And leaving wasn't an option. I had to stick it out for the evening. To survive this experience, I would need sustenance.
After hiring a detective, using a basset hound, and performing a Google search for "food in brother's apartment", I found a jar of Peter Pan - complete with a halo and glory light.
With a spoon, a clean one, and a glass of water, I leaned against the counter, intent on savoring my spoils. I dug in, dug the goop out, and shoved it in my mouth.
Peanut butter is one of those things you have to savor. Even if you don't like it, you have to. It doesn't give you much choice. It's so dry, so sticky, you must have a battle plan during consumption and a contingency in cases of contact with the roof of your mouth.
I had my water. I thought I was prepared. I was so wrong.
This wasn't peanut butter. This couldn't be peanut butter. This tasted like fat, like peanut flavored fat. It was like Crisco, but with a nutty hint.
What had happened to this Peter Pan? What was wrong with it?
I'm a health conscious individual.
Okay, I'm crazed with it.
I like authenticity in EVERYTHING - people, currency, and food. If I meet someone, I expect them to be themselves. If I'm given money, I expect it not to be counterfeit. If I'm eating peanut butter, I expect peanuts ground into a creamy or chunky spread. I expect peanuts and salt. And I expect nothing else.
In my house, peanut butter was peanut butter. It was the real deal. Take it to the bank. But this...this...inferior substitute was nasty. I decided to starve instead. There was nothing edible about it. In fact, I could no longer even call it peanut butter. From that point on, I called it fat with a peanut mixed in.
It's astounding, really, how easily we accept substitutions. Instead of friends, we have business associates. Instead of truth, we have politics. Instead of health, we have a pill. Instead of anything real, anything pure, we fill in the void with inferior replicas - synthetic, particleboard, genetically altered, fork-tongued doubles. And instead of seriously finding fulfillment, purpose, real worth in our lives, we settle for a raise at work, a bigger house, a younger spouse, a fancier title, a little fame, a lot of fortune.
In the end, all we really get is a nut flavored spread, instead of real peanut butter.
We could be living out lives with purpose in Christ, we could be exercising our talents, we could be amazed at how our dreams are small compared to God's dreams for us.
We could be really living.
Years ago, when I was a kid, I loved Peter Pan. It tasted good, went down easy, and satisfied my hunger. I had no idea something else was out there, something more real, more nutritious, more filling, more delicious, was just outside my box.
I'm not a kid anymore. I've experienced a little life, at least enough to recognize REAL people, REAL purpose, and REAL peanut butter. Anything else, including my once loved Peter Pan, is nothing but a cheap imitation.