A Place at the Table

Like most of us, during this unusual time, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. I’ve tried to be faithful to the guidelines which means that I have spent very little time with family gatherings. As a result, I have found myself thinking about my younger days and what it was like to be part of a large family.

This was in the days before fast food and drive through windows. Yes, they had invented the automobile, telephone and electricity. I do not mean to imply that I am ancient. However, it was more than a half century ago. In those days, family meals were shared around the table instead of in the car on the way to some destination. Being one of six children growing up on a farm, meals for us usually meant the food was served family style complete with mama’s perfect homemade biscuits. It also meant that everyone sat in a designated seat which was always the same.

As the years went by, things began to change. My oldest sister graduated from high school and went off to college. Mama told us to shift around to make more room and one of us could sit in Linda’s place. You see, whoever was sitting there didn’t really matter because it was still Linda’s place. Even when she was not there, we still remembered it was her place and it awaited her return. Whenever she came home, we all went back to the designated seating again.

Over time, I discovered something. What happened with Linda happened with other members of the family. When it came my time to leave home, I was comforted by the fact that my place at the table awaited my return. It meant a lot to me to know that, regardless of where I was in the world or how out of place I felt, there was a place called home and there was a place at the table for me.

Jesus told a great parable of a young man for whom this was a reality. He had traveled to a far country, wasted his inheritance and fallen on hard times. He had no one to blame but himself. He finally remembered that even the servants had a place in his father’s house. Deciding to return home, he arose from his desperate surroundings and returned home. When he arrived, his father rejoiced and threw a party.

You can find this story in Luke 15 in the Bible and there is much more to it than I have shared. For the moment however, consider what it would be like to feel that you have no place to belong. Life can get that way sometimes. In such moments, it is good to know that there is a place at the table for us. Jesus said in Matthew 11, “Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” In this season of Covid, are you needing rest? What would change in your life if you realized that there is a place at the table for you? Knowing that God has a place at the table for each of us is a wonderful thing. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it? What will be different in your life from this point forward? Your place is waiting.


What’s in the way?

I am an aspiring photographer. To be perfectly honest, I should admit upfront that calling myself a photographer is to be a bit generous with the term. What I actually mean is that I own a camera. The truth of the matter is my wife and children should be truly thankful that I never tried to make a living on my photography skills. Be that as it may, every now and then I get the idea that I want to be a photographer. I go to the cabinet and take the camera out of the case in which it is stored. If need be, I charge up the battery and then launch out on some expedition which will render such amazing photographs that any wildlife magazine in the country would be envious. Of course, I’m still waiting for that to occur.

A few days ago, while speaking with our oldest son on the phone who is a photographer/videographer, he pointed out that this week would be a great week in which to film the Milky Way. He gave very clear directions as to how to set up my camera, where in the sky to point it and how to snap the picture. It seemed simple enough.

Last night was the first night in which the sky was actually clear enough to view the stars. I took my camera and made the adjustments as I had been instructed. Carefully I set it up on my tripod about the time the sun was going down. One by one the stars began to appear. It was a beautiful night sky. I was excited in my anticipation of the award winning photo I was about to take. With great patience I awaited the ideal time to take the picture. I knew my window of opportunity was going to be brief as I could see clouds in the distance beginning to gather. The time finally arrived so I snapped the picture. To my great dismay, nothing happened. There was no picture. I tried again to no avail. Double checking my settings and going back through my mental checklist that I had received from my son, I tried again only to discover the same result. As the clouds finally engulfed the Milky Way I saw my great opportunity slip away.

It was a disappointment. Something must have happened to my camera while it was packed away. After all, we had moved several times in the last couple of years. Perhaps I could find someone who could fix it.

Upon arriving back at home, I went to the case in which to place my camera and I made a discovery. The lens cap was still on the camera. I had made all of the preparations but one of the most important things I had overlooked.

Have you ever been there? I don’t necessarily mean in your use of your camera but in your approach to life and faith. Have you ever headed out into a new day with the intent of accomplishing a particular purpose, only to discover that something is in the way.

Let me ask you a question. What is it that is in the way? What is keeping you from achieving your best? Could it be as simple as removing the lens cap so you can see where you are focused? What are you going to do about it?

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is in Matthew. The disciples are out in the Sea of Galilee and their boat is being toss about by a ferocious storm. Jesus approaches them walking on the water. Peter, upon seeing Jesus says, “If it is you let me come walking to you.” Jesus invites him to do so and no sooner does he get started when he takes his eyes off of Jesus and Peter begins to sink. That’s usually what happens to most of us when we take our eyes off of Jesus. So, let me ask again; What is in your way? What steps do you need to take to move whatever it is so your focus can be restored? Just as it was with that beautiful sky last night, I’m sure God has something beautiful for you once you get the obstacles out of the way.


Life Source

We boarded the bus in Tel Aviv. Before the day was over we would end up in Jerusalem. While Tel Aviv was a wonderful place, it really didn’t feel much different than what one might have experienced in any other western city. Located on the shores of the Mediteranean Sea it had all of the modern conveniences one would expect to find in such a place. However, on this morning, leaving these things did not leave a sense of regret among the tour group with whom I was traveling. It was quite the opposite. There was a genuine sense of excitement in the air.

We were about to travel to Caesarea by the Sea, the Dead Sea, Jericho and finally Jerusalem, the Holy City. I remember the journey well, particularly as we traveled through the desert wilderness. There was nothing there that spoke of life. Even the Dead Sea, its blue water against the desolate, brown hills of Moab, was a beautiful sight to observe. However, with all of its beauty there still stood the stark reality that it could not sustain life. As we rode along, looking upon the lifelessness of the wilderness, I suddenly noticed something that didn’t seem to fit in the landscape. In the distance there was, what appeared to be a bright patch of green. Unsure of what it could be, I thought it looked like a pasture in which livestock might graze but how could there be something so fertile in the middle of lifeless terrain? The closer we drew the more confirmation we received that it was exactly what it appeared to be, a pasture. Finally the bus came to a stop and our guide pointed out to us that there were places such as this because of the advances of irrigation technology. He then read to us a passage from Isaiah 35, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.”

What a powerful image this is, both in person as well as in Scripture. It is truly amazing to see life spring forth out of parched earth. The only ingredient that was missing was water. Once it was added, that which was devoid of life became full of life.

Sometimes it isn’t the earth that is devoid of life. Sometimes it is our very spirit that seems too desolate to sustain life. Maybe life’s circumstances have taken our joy away and we no longer feel alive. Just as the water gave new life and vegetation to that parched earth in the wilderness, the Spirit of God offers us new life as well. It is that Spirit that brings forth abundant life to the places that knew no life. What is required is for us to open ourselves up to possibilities of God. Indeed, “the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom.”