Friday, May 31, 2024

The Finest Table

I am not perfect. I have never been perfect. My life is a mess; it's always been a mess. There's not a day that goes by that I don't somehow get wrapped up in something that tests me in some way, even if that something is a goodness that presses up against the brokenness I wrestle with more regularly. 

Someone once told me that my life is "exhausting" to them. I don't think that my life is any more exhausting than anyone else's, but maybe the way that I'm honest about it makes it seem so. Most of us just aren't as forthcoming about our challenges and struggles. We would rather ignore the hard things, the bad things, and simply push through them, pretending that they aren't real or that they aren't hard or that they aren't bad because, we think, our hard things make us difficult and our bad things make us bad. And we don't want to be difficult or bad. 

But then, we come to a place like the Table, and it feels like we can't ignore it any more. When we come to the Table, we feel every bit of our own failings, every struggle, every challenge, every brokenness. When we come to the Table, most of us have this moment of recognition about the truth of our own lives, and we feel...unworthy. 

Over the years, I have heard it said many times - I don't belong at the Table with Jesus. I'm too dirty. I'm too broken. I'm too bad. I'm too unclean. I'm not worthy of this sacrifice, and I'm not worthy of this fellowship, and I am not worthy to drink this cup or take this bread. Over the years, I have known many who have sat this moment out, thinking that it is not for someone like them. 

This Table is exactly for someone like you.

Recently, I came across some powerful words in the book of Job. Remember Job? Job was a faithful man who had it all, then lost it all, and for most of the book that bears his name, he's sitting in a dust pile with three would-be friends who are not very helpful after all, scratching at his boils with broken pottery and cursing the day that he was born. His life is in absolute ruins, and his heart, too, is wrecked. Job is all of us.

What makes this even more interesting is that all of the biblical scholarship seems to agree that if we were to place the story of Job in its chronological place in the Bible, we'd place it somewhere in early Genesis, probably even before the story of Abraham. Some argue even earlier than that. Which means that at the time in which Job is sitting in his ash pile, there's not a lot in terms of a promise of God to hang his hat on. There hasn't been a Passover yet; that's still hundreds, thousands of years in the future, and Jesus, even further away than that. 

And yet, the book of Job says: 

Job, even now, God is enticing you away from the jaws of distress; He is luring you to a wide, wonderful place free of boundaries where your table will be covered in the finest foods. (Job 36:16)

Long before there is a table, God is setting one for Job. Long before there is the decadent sacrifice, God is filling Job's table with the finest of all things. At the lowest point in his life, when Job seems least worthy - covered in dust and ashes, raw from boils, soiled with tears, holding a measure of indignation, cursing the day he was born - God is drawing Job toward the table. The table that the Lord Himself is setting, right in the midst of Job's distress. 

If ever there was a moment when a man seemed unworthy of the table, it's Job, but God says...even now. Even now, there is a table. 

And He is saying the same to you. 

Whatever your situation, wherever you're at, however unworthy you feel, there's a place at the Table for you. Whatever you think you've done, whatever your life looks like, if you're on the mountaintop or sitting in a pile of dust and ashes, there's a place at the Table for you. If you're stuck in sin that you can't seem to get out of, if your life is falling apart around you, if you've lost everything, there's one thing you haven't lost: there is a place at the Table for you. 

Even now. 

Won't you come?

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