Friday, April 28, 2017
A seat at the table.
I want to start by saying that this isn't my usual style of devotion, yet it is where my heart is at the moment and so I want to share that.
Imagine with me for a moment that you are sitting in a crowded café by yourself. You are at a table set for two, but only one seat is taken, the one you are sitting on. Every other table is full of couples and groups of friends and families, all laughing and talking and sharing life over food and coffee. As you sit there, sipping your coffee, you silently wonder what it would feel like to be a part of that, to be part of a world where you belonged. Part of you tells you that it’s not that great, that all those people probably hate each other or they do it because they have to. But another part of you longs for the belonging, for the sense of acceptance that comes with being welcomed in. You want to go over and join one of the tables, to laugh and talk and share, but you don’t because you don’t think you will be accepted or welcomed. Instead, you finish your coffee and leave, taking one last look at the tables from beneath your sunglasses as you leave.
If you felt a little sadness reading the above paragraph, you were not alone; I was that person in the café alone watching others. As I sat by myself on Easter Monday and wrote the above I felt my heart break a little. Not for myself, as I often seek out time alone, but for others that have just experienced that very thing over Easter. Let me elaborate. As I sat and watched people, I found myself smiling at all the laughter and joy that was around. It felt like Easter; people celebrating with loved ones and sharing life. But in that instant, I felt God remind me of the countless people that were alone over Easter watching the rest of us celebrate our Saviour and wonder. Wonder at how it would have felt to be a part of a church family that welcomed them in with open arms. Wonder what it would have been like to have people surround them and pray with them. To wonder at this Jesus that we were all celebrating. To wonder at what belonging felt like.
Easter is a time when we remember the crazy, irrational and unending love of the Father; that He would send His beloved Son to the cross for our – for my – sins, is something I still struggle to comprehend. My little brain just struggles to understand a love that deep but despite my ability to understand it, I accept it with everything in me and find my sense of worth and value in it. The love of God for me is what drives me to do what I do and is what keeps me going when the valley gets darker and darker. Yet, there are many that don’t know Him. There are many that are walking in the depths of the valley under a blanket of darkness and have no idea that there is One that can guide them out of the valley. They don’t know that there is a body of believers that will stand with them, that will advocate for them and love them. They don’t know that He went to the cross for them, too because the truth is, they just don’t know.
In Psalm 23, David says, 'you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;' and I think that one line is such a beautiful reflection of God's heart because he is a God of fellowship. He is a Father in Heaven that wants to sit at the table with His children and dine with them and connect with them and love them. He is a giving Father that wants to pour out onto His children but sadly, countless people don't know that. There are millions out there that don't know they have a seat at His table. They don't know that they are welcome at the table. Here's the thing; we will always be welcome at the table. God’s table is one that has been set before all of us and the invitation is open to everyone; the misfits, outcasts, sinners, doubters, heartbroken, prodigal sons and daughters. The list goes on. Every one of us is welcome at the table, we just need to accept the invitation to take a seat.
Maybe you know someone that is struggling to come to the table that God has set. Maybe your child is struggling to come to the table, despite your countless invitations and prayers. Maybe your neighbor watches you from a distance and makes snide little comments about this faith of yours, so you don’t invite them to the table, yet deep down, so deep they likely don’t even recognise it, they long for a seat. Or maybe you're struggling to take your place at His table. Life has taken one painful turn after another and you find your heart is a little harder and your thoughts a little more cynical about a Father in Heaven that supposedly wants what is best for His children. You see the table set before you, but you struggle to pull out a chair and sit. Yet you wonder. Are you still welcome? Can you still partake? Will the others welcome you back?
Whatever you are feeling, know you are welcome at His table. Wherever your heart is right now, God sees it and feels it with you and He wants you to take a seat beside Him at the table. He wants to heal your hurt and bind your wounds and give you a joy that goes beyond human understanding. That is what is waiting for us when we take a seat at His table. And the truth is just as there is a seat for you at the table, there is a seat for those that have yet to know Him. Those that have turned their back on Him, or ridicule Him, or persecute His children. As hard as it is to understand, there is a seat for them as well, they just don’t know it because they don’t know Him and part of us taking our seat, is telling others they can take theirs. We can’t keep this table hidden. This is a table that extends far and there is so many vacant seats left. Countless vacant seats that need to be filled before it is too late.
As I sat at the table, alone, I wondered at what I would do if someone came up to me and asked me if they could take a seat at my table. Would I say yes? Would I share my table with them, and my food? Or would I close myself off so that no one would even bother? Would I say no and keep the table and all that is on it to myself? This message is more for me than anyone else because I know that I have a ways to go in sharing Jesus. I love my Jesus and keep Him close, but I know that it’s not how God wants me to live. So I pray to God, with everything in me, that He would give me the heart to welcome people in, to share not just my table, but my heart and my Jesus. To share with them the greatest gift that I have ever received, the Risen Saviour. I pray that I would not just invite more people to the table, but pull out the chair for them and seat them right next to me.
Leila (Lays) Halawe is a Sydney based coffee loving nonfiction writer and blogger. She has published a short devotional, Love By Devotion, and shares her views on life and faith via her blog page Looking In. You can connect with her via Facebook at Leila Halawe Author and via Twitter at Leila Halawe.