Friday, February 7, 2020

We Come Limping to His Table

In high school I developed an eating disorder that expressed itself in many ways over time. My kids were in high school and college when I realized my dieting was dangerously out of control and I decided to get help. When I first started counseling, I was in denial about the impact my disorder had on others and said something like, "At least it's only food and doesn't impact my family like alcohol or drugs might." The counselor smiled and explained that if he were doing family counseling with us, the first things he would do is ask my children to draw the family dinner table. He then asked me what I thought they would draw and I had to admit that they would have drawn the table with my place empty as I seldom ate with them. I realized in that session that the dinner table was as much about family interaction as it was about food. In recovery, I also became more and more aware and fascinated by Bible passages that dealt with food and meals.

I had struggled with deep shame for a long time over my relationship with food. I hated how often my thoughts were consumed with food, dieting, or the number on the scale. I was also ashamed that food itself was the source of my struggle. After I entered recovery I realized the very first sin committed was centered around food. I also realized Adam and Eve's choice to eat the fruit was more about what Satan promised than the fruit itself. Satan's temptation stirred in them a desire that the fruit didn't fulfill and they ended up miserable.

I could relate to Adam and Eve as I turned to food when I mistook relational hunger for physical hunger.At times I searched frantically for the perfect food to satisfy a hunger I couldn't identify--a hunger food could never satisfy. I could relate to them when I thought I would be happier if only I had something else, which for me was usually a low number on the scale. I restricted food intake so I could feel more powerful when I felt powerless over life, only to realize it was a vicious cycle.I could relate to them when I thought certain foods would calm my anxious heart.  And, when I ate to calm my anxiety, I could sleep the sleep of a food coma, only to awaken to unresolved issues that had stirred my anxious heart, now coupled with the shame brought on by my choices. I eventually realized food wasn't the enemy and it didn't have power over me unless I gave it power. I also realized that eating wasn't a shameful act when I did it with a grateful heart, praising God for His provision. In fact it was an act of worship, resulting in God being ever present. I could walk with Him through disordered thoughts and temptations and see them as an opportunity to know God better.

A few years into recovery I was in a freak accident that left me with a limp. As a result, I embraced the story of Mephibosheth who was Jonathon's son and Saul's grandson. It would have been customary for Jonathon to become king when Saul died, but God appointed David instead. David faithfully served Saul in the interim, but Saul was filled with jealousy over David's God-given abilities, future kingship, and David's victory over Goliath that resulted in popularity. In a fit of jealous rage, he tried to kill David and David realized the king viewed him as an enemy. This grieved both Jonathon and David who were close friends. Jonathon helped David escape and David vowed to show Jonathon and his family mercy when he became king.

Then Saul and Jonathon were killed, leaving behind Mephibosheth. When Mephibosheth's nurse heard of their deaths, she fled with the young boy and fell, injuring both his legs. After David established his kingdom, he remembered his promise to Jonathon and called a servant to find out if there was anyone from Saul's house alive to which he could show mercy. The servant told him about young crippled Mephibosheth and David sent for him.

I imagine Mephibosheth was filled with fear when he was called to the palace of the king that his grandfather had tried to kill. And, when he arrived, he humbly bowed before David and David told him not to be afraid because he had called him to show him favor. Mephibosheth offered himself as a servant, but David gave him a seat at his own table, which meant he, the king, considered Mephibosheth as a son. David also gave him land so his servants could work it and provide all that he needed, which gave the crippled Mephibosheth back his dignity. 

I love this story because of my limp and the invitation to the king's table. Each one of us is Mephibosheth. We were born God's enemy and have been crippled by sin that we have committed and by sin that has been perpetrated against us. Since the fall we have all also been crippled by all sorts of trauma, causing us to be crippled in our ability to do good, our ability to manage our emotions, our ability to discern truth from lies, our ability to love well, and our ability to worship and honor God. Yet, like Mephibosheth, we have been invited to the palace of the King of kings and we come limping to God's table with nothing to offer. Just as Mephibosheth found mercy because of David's love for Jonathon, we have found mercy because of the Father's love for Jesus. Like Mephibosheth, we who don't deserve to even be servants, have been made joint heirs with Christ.  

There are still times that my ankle gets sore and stiff and my limp becomes more pronounced and walking more awkward. There are times that something happens to trigger feelings of past traumas and I find myself walking through my relationships with an invisible "limp" that, too, feels awkward and uncomfortable. There are also times I experience stress and old eating disordered thoughts raise their ugly heads and I find myself "limping" awkwardly through the day barely holding on to what is healthy and good. At those times I know I can either get frustrated and give into shameful thoughts that shout in my head, "I should be over this by now!" Or, I can choose to remember how Mephibosheth, who was David's enemy came to be seated at the king's table and then choose to cling to the truth that I, who was once God's enemy, am now seated at His table, forever belonging to His family. I am also reminded that through His divine power He has given me every thing I need for a godly life through the knowledge of Him who has called us out of His goodness. Over time I've let go of the shame I associated with my different "limps"--physical, relational, and emotional--and I am thankful for this Biblical picture of my reconciliation to the King of kings. 

I know that as we, God's crippled children, each come hobbling up to His table, we are met with lavish mercy and grace that we did nothing to earn. I know that at His table we are forever covered with a love that has been shown through Christ's brutal death on a cross. You  and I may come limping to His table, but the Father welcomes us without hesitation, seeing each of us hidden in Christ becoming the person He created us to be. 


Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!