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A Place at the Table: More Than Enough

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

More Than Enough

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
Matthew 14:20

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with one little boy’s lunch is a story that has captivated me since I was a curly-headed kid in children’s church. I can barely imagine what a crowd of 5,000 people looks like sitting on a hillside, and trying to picture the amount of food needed to feed them is nearly impossible for me. As with a lot of the stories of miracles in the Bible, I always pictured this dinner party as something grandiose and an exciting moment, with fireworks every time the bread was broken to feed another 100 people.

Maybe miracles are like that sometimes, but maybe more often they occur without much show, like they’re just a part of our normal lives. I’m sure the disciples’ hearts jumped every time they realized they still had food left to give to one of their 5000 dinner guests, but I wonder if those people even realized what was actually happening. Scripture simply tells us they ate, they were satisfied, and then the disciples picked up the leftovers. Did they realize they were sitting in the midst of a miracle we’d still be talking about today?

I know I didn’t. On The World Race, we had a pretty strict food budget of $5 per person per day. It doesn’t sound like much, but in most places around the world it is more than enough. “Most places” doesn’t include Durban, South Africa, though. Our food budget was running low for the month, so we grabbed one box of pasta and some vegetables at the grocery store for dinner. As we cooked the food, we prayed that we’d have enough to feed the eight people around the table, even jokingly referring to our one pot of pasta as our very own “fish and loaves.”

One by one, we all filled our bowls with pasta and sat down around the table. We caught each other up on how our days had gone and we started planning the next few days out. The boys got up for seconds, and everyone else followed. As I scooped more pasta into my bowl I noticed that it didn’t look like we had even made a dent in what we had cooked, even though I knew that one box of pasta should have only fed us once.

To this day, the only thing any of us have said about that dinner was “I can’t believe we all got seconds out of that one box,” but I believe without a doubt that we were a part of a miracle that night. We just didn’t realize what was actually happening.

May God open our eyes and hearts to the miraculous as we sit around the table, sharing and living stories of His power and love today.

Chelsey

A Place at the Table: Hallelujah

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

Hallelujah

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Psalm 146:1-2

TuesdayIt’s nearly 8:00 pm in a village in Swaziland, and I’m marching through a tall field of grass with four other girls. Being in the middle of nowhere changes the way the stars look. We’re not lost and we’re not crazy. We’ve been invited to a local church dinner.

From the field, we can see the faint light of the church in the distance. We hear the voices inside singing and immediately realize we’re in for a long night. When we finally arrive, we join them in worship. We’re dancing and singing, but only one word.

Hallelujah.

Over and over again, we sing the word hallelujah. For six minutes, this goes on—our dancing and our one-word song. We could have kept it up for the entire night, and it would have gone down in my book as one of my favorite church services of all time.

Something about singing the word hallelujah again and again before sitting down around the table together made us feel like we had stepped back in time to the early church. Worshipping arm in arm and passing plates of food between us seemed to go hand in hand with one another. Our precious Swazi brothers and sisters had sacrificed to give us a feast unimaginable and invited us in with genuine joy and love. I realized that this is what the heart of Christ looks like.

He invites us to His table full of love and joy and asks us to partake with Him and enjoy the blessings He places before us. Around that table, things get spilled and messes get made, but even still it remains a table and a feast that can be defined by one word: hallelujah.

We’ve done nothing to deserve our place at His table, just like we had done nothing to deserve a place at the church dinner in Swaziland. Even so, we have been invited to enjoy a feast at the sacrifice of another, and for that, a six-minute song of hallelujahs seems not nearly enough.

Chelsey

A Place at the Table: Everyday Doxology

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

Everyday Doxology

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

As crazy as it may seem to some, I had never heard the word Doxology until I was in college. Twenty-four hours after a tornado ripped through my college town, I found myself in the backyard of a pastor’s home with 50 college students singing these four lines:

MondayPraise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Amen.

The only thing that made sense to us in a season of destruction and rebuilding was to praise God. For weeks after the tornado, we would gather in a pastor’s backyard for dinner and sing the Doxology together. Those nights helped those four lines sink into my bones and take root, to a point where I find myself still breathing out those words habitually throughout the day.

It’s easy to repeat the Doxology after a day when the sun is shining and everything is going your way. It’s easy to stand and sing praises when your life is an adventure and the hand of God is evident in every day. But sometimes a tornado sweeps through your life, literally or figuratively, and you’re stuck figuring out which way is up again.

The Doxology is a piece of quiet comfort to me. It’s a simple song full of strength, and one that can almost be finished in one breath. It’s a song for times when we’re not eloquent or put together, for when all we know to do is to acknowledge that God is with us.

When we find our place at the table of God surrounded by the people of God, praise should be pouring off our lips. Our Creator delights in us every day, in every moment. This should lead us to delight in Him in the same way, to live and breathe that Doxology every day and in every moment. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad—whether the sun is shining or a tornado is coming.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Chelsey