I wish that today's guest could actually be sitting beside me on that orange couch. She is my most favorite person in this world to pray with. When she leaves my home, she leaves a crackling trail of holy embers in her wake. She prays in the Spirit - as I imagine the earliest Christians did in the ancient faith. She lays hands and lifts hands, speaks of visions and prophesies in tongues. Since I was raised in a Presbyterian church, this was all a bit akward at the start. And then the Lord met me profoundly during one of my prayer times with this woman. This woman.
That's all I can call her today, online, in public, because she is a missionary in a country hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each Summer she and her husband and their children travel "home" to the United States to connect with family and friends. We are blessed to be counted among those who get to enjoy them during their furlough. Late into the night we sit together. Another friend joins us with her gaggle of kiddos, and the three of us pray as our nine collective kids swim in the dark, eat too many toasted marshmallows, then watch a movie together so that the moms don't have to rush their Amen.
I learn so much from this woman - when we pray and when we break bread, and even when she sends out her ministry reports. As a matter of fact, what I'm sharing with you here is one such divine email update. I can't help but marvel over how we are on opposite sides of the world, each learning such similar lessons.
"Last night we had some family friends over for dinner. I wanted to make a special dinner for them. I made pizza, lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and even a cheesecake for dessert because I know it’s their favorite. Then, when they showed up, one of the 3 friends didn’t come. Honestly, I was mostly thinking of him when I was preparing the food, going the extra mile. And he just didn’t come. Said he was too tired and had too much work to do. Didn’t even come by the door to say hi. Just dropped off the two other friends and took off to do other tasks. I was so hurt. I had a hard time covering up my hurt feelings. I kind of let it out – letting those who came know I was disappointed and hurt that he would just walk on my graciousness and kindness towards him. That all my preparations meant nothing to him. I was hurt that he felt like his “to do list” and his “tiredness” was more significant than my work. That I was not worth it to him. I was hurt. I actually surprised myself with my reaction. Where did this come from? I mean, I could have just sat back and thought “well, more food for us! Less cooking for me!” But I didn’t. I was hurt.
This morning I sat and pondered and chided myself for being so rash and emotional. For letting my hurt be expressed. I brought it to the Lord and asked for forgiveness. He reminded me of the passage in Luke 14 about the wedding feast. About how the master had prepared a feast and invited guests. Even though the feast stood ready to eat, fatted calf killed, all the preparations made, the guests all came up with one silly excuse after another for why they couldn’t come enjoy the food and the party the master had prepared. The master’s reaction? He was angry. He was downright mad. Hurt that these silly people could just ignore all of his work for their trivial issues. He decided to invite others to enjoy his celebration – even those he didn’t know. Bums, homeless, the like. Anyone who would eat the food he’d prepared.
After the Lord brought this to my mind, I sort of sat back a bit smugly and thought, "Well, there now, see? I was righteous in my anger towards this friend. Just like the master. I was not crazy to be upset. I was justified. I felt the same way God feels towards people who don’t accept his invitation. My disappointment, hurt, discouragement were all validated in that scripture."
Then a few minutes later the Lord said to me, oh so quietly, “I prepare a feast for you every morning….but you often don’t come.”
Warm tears started choking up in my throat. Then they started cascading down my face, and before I could think another thought I was face down on my floor sobbing and telling him how sorry I am. How sorry I am for missing the feast. How sorry I am for how often I walk by our special chair, our meeting place, and plow into my list of to dos for the day. Or how I wake up too late because I’m so tired. Or how I say, "Just let me do this one thing and then I’ll come sit with you. Really, I promise." And then all of the things that grab a homeschooling mom’s attention in the early morning race in and that’s it. The reasoning and the reasons continue, "Lord, let me just check my email and get this quick text out and then I’ll come sit with you… Oh my, look at the time now! Well, it will have to wait until later."
But by later, the food is cold and has lost its flavor. The banquet can be “reheated” but it’s not as good as when it’s freshly prepared."
Sweet friends, this woman lives on the underbelly of the globe, serving the least and the lost, and yet she struggles with the same issues you and I do in the midst of first-world lives. She passes by her chair, passes by communion, passes by the feast in the busyness of family life. Just last week I wept my way through this post - because I'm tempted to miss the feast too.
Let us learn together to cease from the constant striving pace and practice stillness in His Presence. Lest we miss the feast. And we don't want to do that, for He is the feast.
He is the feast.
"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
I am currently reading Bob Sorge's Secrets of the Secret Place.
It has given shape to my private abiding moments with the Lord.
And I cannot recommend it enough.
Each short chapter is an absolute