Monday, December 5, 2022

At This Table

Early in life I developed an eating disorder that expressed itself in many ways. When I realized my dieting was becoming dangerous and my control was out of control, I decided to get help. When I met with my first counselor, my denial system was pretty strong, and I told him I didn't think my disorder was impacting my family. 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 what I thought they would draw. After a long pause, I admitted that they would have drawn the table with my place either empty or with a drink only. I realized in that session the dinner table could be as much about interaction as it was about food. I soon became fascinated by Bible passages that dealt with food and meals.

I had struggled with shame because of my crazy relationship with food. I hated how often my thoughts were consumed with food, dieting, the number on the scale, or the dress size I was wearing. I was also ashamed that food itself was the source of my struggle. As I searched the Bible for answers, I realized the very first sin ever committed was centered around food and that Adam and Eve's choice to eat the fruit was more about what Satan promised than the fruit itself. I also realized Satan's temptation stirred in them a desire the fruit didn't fulfill, and they ended up miserable as they longed for their redemption to be complete. 

I could relate to Adam and Eve as I turned to food, mistaking relational or spiritual hunger for physical hunger. At times I searched frantically for the perfect food to satisfy a craving I couldn't even identify or satisfy. I could relate to them when I thought I would be happier if only I had something more--more pounds lost, more power over life or broken relationships, more freedom from besetting sin, more peace in the face of my perfection and anxious thoughts. Oh, there were momentary feelings of the "more's satisfied," only to awaken to the same cravings again and again.  

I heard a sermon taught by Louis Giglio, called don't give the enemy a seat at your table. He developed the sermon from Psalm 23 and talked about how God prepares us a table in the presence of our enemies and explained that we can choose to give the enemy a seat or we can focus on the Lord and dine with Him, while ignoring the enemy and his plans. I realized food has never been the enemy, but Satan was as he whispered temptation after temptation in my ear. I didn't have to give into his voice, tempting me to starve or binge. I could accept each meal as a gift and focus on the Giver. When I did that, eating no longer felt like a shameful act and I could eat with a grateful heart, praising God for His provision. I could even walk with Him through disordered thoughts and temptations and see God's strength in my weakness. 

A few years into my recovery I was in a freak accident that left me with a noticeable limp. Over time I came to terms with the limp by embracing 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 as he waited his turn, but Saul became consumed with jealousy over David's God-given abilities, future kingship, and David's victory over Goliath. In that state of jealous rage, he tried to kill David and David realized he needed to leave because the king viewed him as an enemy. This grieved 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.

When Saul and Jonathon were killed, Jonathon's son's nurse fled with the young boy. She fell, injuring both of his legs, leaving him crippled. After David established his kingdom, he called a servant to find out if anyone from Saul's house was alive to which he could show mercy. The servant told him about the young, crippled Mephibosheth and David sent for him. I imagine Mephibosheth was filled with fear when he was called to face the king his grandfather had tried to kill, and he humbly bowed before King David. David told him not to be afraid because he had summoned him to show him mercy. Mephibosheth offered himself as a servant, but David gave him a seat at his own table, which meant that he considered Mephibosheth a son. David gave him land so his servants could work and provide all that he needed, which gave the crippled Mephibosheth back his dignity. 

Because of my limp, I love this story and the invitation to eat at the king's table. Each one of us is Mephibosheth. We were born enemies of God and have been crippled by sin that we have committed and by sin perpetrated against us. Since the fall we have been crippled by all sorts of trauma, causing us to be crippled in our ability to do good, to manage emotions, to discern truth from lies, to love well, and in 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, finding mercy in Jesus just as Mephibosheth found in David. 

There are times my ankle gets sore and stiff, and my limp becomes more pronounced. There are times that something happens to trigger feelings of past trauma and I find myself walking with an invisible "limp" that feels as awkward and uncomfortable as my physical one. There are times I experience stress and old eating disordered thoughts and I find myself "limping" awkwardly through the day barely holding on to what is healthy and good, and I know I can either get frustrated and give in or I can choose to remember Mephibosheth, who came to the king's table, and 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 everything I need for a godly life through the knowledge of Him who has called us out of His goodness. 

The music group Selah just released the most beautiful song for Christmas titled, "At this Table!" (At This Table by Selah on Amazon Music - The song, written by Idina Menzer, has such powerful words and I have listened to several times this week. Each time I am filled with peace and stand in awe of God's infinite kindness. How I long for my table to reflect the table of this song--a table where everyone is welcome, everyone is seen, and everyone matters. A table where everyone is noticed, no one is judged, and everyone is free to speak. A place where everyone is forgiven, no one is invisible, and everyone feels like they belong. 

I hope, as God's crippled children, we remember each one of us comes hobbling to the table and yet we are met with lavish mercy and grace that we did nothing to earn. I hope we try our best to extend that to others for at His table we are forever covered with a love shown through Christ's brutal death and resurrection. Maybe, just maybe this is the holiday season that we can reflect that to others.

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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!