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A Place at the Table: There’s Always Room

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.

 

There’s Always Room

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:37

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIn my family each of us has his or her own seat at the table. I know where I’m sitting for every meal, and I know when someone is in the wrong spot. A lot of my close friends are creatures of habit and are the same way in the coffee shops and restaurants we frequent.

The one and only place where I have seen even my most OCD friends give up the need for a consistent seat was in the student center at our university. When we showed up to campus in the mornings for our first classes, we’d stay on campus until our final class let out in the afternoon. In the awkward in-between times after one class and before another, we’d gather around a table in the student center.

Soon more people started pulling up chairs with us. We’d crowd eight people around a four person table most days, some of us eating lunch while others reviewed notes one last time for their next tests. More people showed up, more chairs were added. We slid tables together and expanded our four person table into a seemingly endless table of 15-20 people. No one had a specific seat, and it wasn’t rare to see friends giving up their seats for someone else. No matter what, no matter who showed up, there was always room for one more.

That table with its always open seat calmed the anxieties I used to feel whenever it was time for me to find a place at a table. I learned there was always room. Even more importantly, that table in the student center taught me about the heart of Christ.

The heart of Christ is reflected when we create space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. Offering someone a place at our table instead of pushing them out reflects love and acceptance—the same that Christ offers us.

My friends at that table in the student center had 15 different schedules, 15 different majors, and a whole catalog of different interests. Some stayed at the table longer than others, but no matter the differences, the love of Christ met us there as we met together.

Who are you inviting to your table? Who are you making room for?

Chelsey

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