“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5 NIV
If you know my family, we enjoy gathering around the table with good food and friends. So much can happen when you take time to sit down with a prepared meal that has the intention of facilitating thoughtful and life-giving conversation. At the Bennett house, when my kids were at home, the table was a place of growing with instruction, discipline and yes tears. You cannot raise a family without tears at the table. Emotional breakdowns while passing the mash potatoes happens to us all.
My oldest son and his wife recently bought their first home and one of the key pieces of furniture to any home is the table. Being the ever so observant wife to meet a need and yet also get a new table, my beautiful bride suggested that we give to my son and daughter in law our table. Of course, this means we would need to purchase a new table to replace it. At first, I was hesitant. Not because I did not want to buy a new table for my wife. I would be honored to do so, but my heart was attached to my current table.
That table has memories like the late-night conversations about ball games my kids played that evening. My wife would have something in the crock pot ready to eat when we got home, and we would go over the experiences we shared together at the ball field. It was at the table where we would make family decisions on where we would go on vacation or spend a holiday. We talked about what Universities my kids would attend and what their major would be. At the Bennett table, we had deep conversations about God, His Word and what we could learn during world events happening at the time.
I remember my oldest son one night at dinner, telling our family about his dreams with music. I must admit they were audacious, but they were real aspirations to him and sharing them meant a lot to us all. My middle child as he looked ahead in life shared his goals of being a millionaire businessman who would finance dad and mom’s ministry. I like that one too! However, hearing his heart for ministry is what thrilled my heart the most. My youngest is our world traveler. She is at home in the airport. Not so much these days, but before COVID, if she didn’t have a plane ticket booked to go overseas, she was restless. Hearing her stories around the table of her adventures as she travelled abroad have always been entertaining and inspiring.
The table is where great connection, communication and ministry happens. Prayer, discipleship, healing happen around the place where you gather. Staff, leaders, and ministry teammates have come together to share life and enjoy the company. As I thought about our table leaving the house, to let it go meant it needed to find a new home where it could continue to be used to build lives.
As I considered the thought, I was excited by how handing down this tool of connection would continue in my son’s new home. His family, his teams and his neighbors growing together with a meal. My son, carrying on what he participated in at that table only now the one sitting at the head. One day my grandkids would be shedding their tears and dreams as they passed the mashed potatoes. That picture moved me. Yes, that is what I wanted. I wanted him to take his place at our table and carry on the discussions that would solve problems, raise his family and minister to others with the gift of hospitality. So, with the help of some friends, the table has now gone from the senior Bennett home to the junior Bennett home and looks beautiful.
I love the picture Psalm 23 paints showing the importance of the table God prepares amid our enemies. We can get so busy in the battles of life that we spend more time with God in the drive thru than the table He has prepared with the intention to facilitate thoughtful and life changing conversation. The thought of stopping, gathering and listening seems so foreign when life gets busy. But think of what you are missing if you decide to hit the spiritual drive thru instead of coming to the home cooked meal. You will miss what God has made for you, not a burrito that everyone gets. You find a place of rest, not a stop light to gobble down your double cheeseburger. You come to a season of peace. Where once the war was raging, now you hear nothing but God’s voice speaking through His Word.
Just like the table at home is a place to connect in celebration, conversation and at times tears while passing the mashed potatoes, so God provides a table for us to do the same with Him. In this season of uncertainty, come to the table where God intends to enter into thoughtful and life-giving conversation with you.