One of my favorite verses has always been Psalm 23:5 "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows." Maybe I just like the thought of a feast with Jesus as I certainly do love food and Jesus (not in that order, of course). Seriously, though, the first part of that verse has always stirred up a certain imagery for me.
In my mind, I picture myself seated at a table full of divine, scrumptious food - picture a rich, southern woman's table full of every imaginable comfort food and you get the idea. Jesus is standing behind me getting ready to put the silverware down on the napkin beside my plate. I am delighted to be in his presence and overwhelmed/humbled by the fact that Jesus himself is serving me. As Jesus is standing there behind me, he is aware of my enemies in the spiritual realm. He sees them making plans, discussing the best course of action for attack. As they roam back and forth, Jesus' stare makes them tremble. The actions of his hands continuing to set my place at his table speak louder than his stare saying, "This one is mine. I already made a place for her at my table. There is nothing you can do to her. You cannot prevail. She stays here with me." I, in the meantime, am completely unaware of my enemies swarming because all I can see is God's provision in front of me. All I can feel is satisfaction. All I know is the safety and peace of the shadow of his wings. I am at the table of the King of kings.
I was reminded of this imagery as I read of King David's table where Mephibosheth, a crippled orphan, was given a permanent place. Mephibosheth considered himself a worthless dog. But King David saw the son of a honorable man and dear friend who had passed away. Because of the kindness in his heart, David welcomed Mephiboseth to his table every day. This story brings me to tears every time I read it. I've been trying for quite some time to put into words why this touches my heart in such a raw way. Saying "adoption is so beautiful" just doesn't cut it. Its more than that.
As a believer, I know I can come boldly to the throne of God and make intercession, talk freely. But the throne isn't the most intimate of places in my mind. When I think about a throne room in an earthly sense, I think of formalities such as when to bow, how to dress, rules of engagement - do not look the king in the eye, back away so that one's backside doesn't ever face the king. And then there's the sense of fear of doing/saying something that might cause one to be cast out of a king's presence... and all those ideas that at least the movies put into one's mind about a royal throne. While I'm well aware that the heavenly throne of God is much different, still the idea of coming before the throne of a king doesn't conjure up thoughts of comfortable, permanent relationship.
But a permanent place at the personal table of the King.... now that's different. That's family. Think - casual dialogue about the day; personal appearances not important here; authentic; laughter allowed; tears shed together; encouragement; discussion of dreams, hopes, fears; no fear of losing one's place before the King because its permanent.
Its this idea of having a place at the table of the King that makes coming to his throne boldly a possibility. It starts with that tender place of.... "a worthless wretch like me??? at the King's table???" which grows into, "You said I'm your daughter and I could come to you just as I am and ask for anything. So here I am."
I could spend time here relating all this to why I felt so joyful to have Keemberlie eat each meal with us while we were in Haiti. I'm no king, but having her dine with us was what made her feel like family and what hopefully made us feel like family to her. Dining with someone at the end of the day is a way of saying, "You belong". I wanted her to know she belongs, no matter what she's been through. But I don't want to delve into all that and take away from what God might be saying to you, the reader, in all of this. I feel deeply tonight that someone needs to read this post and have an Aha! moment that says something like this....
"I have a table set before me; a permanent place at the table of the King where I can be who I am, just as I am. And despite who I think I am, the table before me is full of every provision I will ever need because I am loved and I belong to the One who is called "Provider". The provision isn't just food. Its everything I need to live a godly life. Its my helmet, sword, shield. Its the promises of God, the might of God. And its all laid out before me. My enemies can whisper whatever they like, but I feel that tingle in my spine that reminds me my Savior is near. His presence is about me. He delights in me. In my moment of need all I have to say is, "Will you pass the (fill in the blank here)" and whatever that need might be, it is slipped into my hands before I can even finish the sentence. I'm dining with the One who knows my thoughts before I even have them. I'm dining with the One who is most powerful, most wealthy, most loving, never failing. At this table the King has collected every one of my tears in a bottle. He is well acquainted with my sufferings. All my prayers have been collected in a bowl. He has every word and action of my life written out. All my days are known to him. Every step ahead has been ordained by him. At this table is the Book of Life. My King sits next to me and shows me my name written there in it. At this table is Living Water and the Bread of Life. I will never thirst again after dining here and yet every day I will drink it up again because it is so good. Wisdom is the table cloth draped so beautifully under all this provision. It calls out to me, telling me to sit here and be still, at peace in the King's presence. I am fully satisfied before I take one bite because its not the provision itself that satisfies. It is the permanence of my place at this table where His presence never leaves no matter what storms bluster by. At the table with me are other daughters and sons of the King, from every tribe and nation and tongue. Most have known much more suffering than I. They talk freely with the King and me. We are family. I am at the table of the King of kings and my place cannot be taken away. The banner over me is love."