In the evenings at our house, we always try to sit down at the table and have dinner together. My wife is very faithful to plan meals and prepare them. She’s almost always the cook. (Oh, sometimes, if I go fishin’ and catch a few, I’ll clean the fish when I get home, and fry ’em up for supper. But generally, my wife plans and prepares our dinners.) A few nights ago, as I sat down in my place to enjoy the nice meal she had fixed for us, a picture of our family table when I was growing up came to my mind.
When I was growing up, for most of my childhood I had one brother and one sister, and one mom and one dad. My mom worked outside our home as a secretary, but when she got home from work, she changed occupations and went from secretary to being the foreman of the kitchen. She cooked supper, every night. And when she said, “Supper is ready. Come to the table,” as we all gathered around the table … we all knew where we were supposed to sit. My mom sat at one end of the table, closest to the kitchen so she could get up and get the salt and pepper shakers, or a serving spoon she forgot to put in the mashed potatoes, I think. My dad always sat next to her. I sat at the other end of the table. My brother sat directly across from my dad, I think so my dad could keep an eye on him. (My brother Dan needed a lot of help with his table manners, but that’s another story.) And my sister sat next to my brother. There was no seating chart. No fancy name cards in front of our plates so we’d know where to sit. Without anyone telling us, we just knew where our place was.
When we were going someplace in the car, the seating was always up for grabs. Who had to sit in the middle? Who got to sit by the window. The pushing and shoving and running to get a good seat was always an issue when we got in the car, as I remember. But where to sit at the dinner table was a foregone conclusion. No debate. No pushing and shoving. Everyone knew where to sit.
I love the picture of the table that’s painted with words the 23rd Psalm. “You prepare a table before me ….” writes David. It’s as if he’s noticed God graciously doing the cooking in his life. No questions about who’s planned the menu, or if God is following the directions of some life-recipe. David loves hearing God saying, “Supper is ready; come to the table.” The same Jesus who fed five-thousand people bread and fish, now, continually offers a meal seasoned with God’s grace, peace and provision, a table filled with incredible blessings. He’s not a God who glares at us when we forget our table manners and act like mere children. He doesn’t sit across from us. Somehow, all the seats at God’s table are right next to Him. No need to push or shove to get a good view of God.
“Here I am,” says God in his book, in Revelation 3. “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Plenty of room at His table. All you have to do is open the door to your heart and enjoy.