Kingdom Living

Banquet at The Father’s House

My most favorite memories are those around the holidays. Every gathering with beloved friends and family lights me up inside. Yes, there are some sad memories around this time, but the sweetness of good “old” memories and being surrounded by people I love overrides the bitterness of sorrow. I started imagining what a holiday gathering might be like at The Father’s house.


“Is there anything I can help with?” I ask The Father. He is making all the final preparations for our feast and there are lots of other people there helping as well.

The Father welcomes me in and gives me a big hug before inviting me to participate with Him in preparing for the feast (kids always want to help).

You can help set the table, daughter.” He gives me a purpose, and points me to the gold and silver dishes and utensils we will be using for our feast. 

I finish setting the table just in time for the food to start coming out. Finally, the table is fully set and the food is bountiful. There isn’t a single favorite missing! Turkey, ham, lamb, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and mashed, green bean casserole, casseroles of every kind, corn (we need a reminder), bread, even homemade cranberry sauce (don’t judge – my Grandma had the best recipe and I loved it!), and the list goes on! Drinks have been poured. We’re all ready to dive in.

The banquet room is warmly lit. Not from a fire, but by the glory radiating from The Father. The room is intimate, but big enough to hold all the people I know and love and the people they know and love and so on. Dimensions are a weird thing at The Father’s house.

The head of the table comes to His seat – Jesus. Looking at The Father, Jesus expresses His thanks for the feast we are salivating over and then proceeds to carve the turkey. He serves each person Himself before sitting down to begin eating from His own plate.

Conversations around the table are sweet and the food unimaginably good. I stop for a minute to listen – it sounds like the whole room is singing. Though all the conversations are different, the song that is being made from it all sounds melodious! It’s not overwhelmingly loud either because no one has to yell to be heard. I realize I’ve been smiling since I got to The Father’s house. I pause for a moment to take it all in. The glow of the room. The beautiful decor. The “background music” from the humming conversations. And all these wonderful people. I look over and see The Father looking at me with a smile on His face.

All of this is for you, my beloved one. I am glad you came to sit and fellowship with me. I love watching you enjoy all that I have provided.

My heart is full (and my stomach too). 

But it’s time for desert and coffee! Not sure how I could fit more into my stomach, but this is one of the best times of fellowship.  I pull the comfy chair up next to Jesus who is sitting by The Father. Coffee steaming on the end table, dessert in hand, we talk for hours. I listen again to old stories I know, but there is always something new The Father tells me in those stories. Jesus patiently listens as I pour out my heart. I tell Him everything on my mind but nothing phases Him. He listens intently as if He didn’t already know all these things I’m talking about. And when I finally give Him space to speak, His voice and instruction are gentle and loving. I always learn so much from Him.

I’m grateful to be sitting right here, right now. There’s nothing better than feast-day at The Father’s house. I don’t want to say good-bye or good-night. I want to hold on to this beautiful thought. The Father reminds me that there are even more wonderful things, things beyond my imagination, in store for me in eternity.


This small imagination of mine surely pales in comparison to what it will really be like when we finally get to feast at the banquet table in Heaven. Would you sit for a moment and imagine with me? What does your perfect feast have that mine doesn’t? Who is at the table with you? One thing is certain, God The Father, and Jesus His Son will be there welcoming us with open arms and it will always be the best feast ever.

 

And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land.
– Ezekiel 34:23-24,26-27

Kingdom Living

I Can’t

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
1 John 1:16

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

“I can’t” is not a phrase I’m comfortable with. It’s certainly not a phrase I want my kids saying. I’m not the only one that doesn’t like this phrase either. It’s frowned on from a societal and cultural perspective.

But right now, I need to say it. It’s the truth. This is the one circumstance where this is true.

I can’t – without Jesus.

I can’t parent well – without Jesus.

I can’t do my job with excellence – without Jesus.

I can’t live healthily – without Jesus.

I can’t succeed at anything worthwhile – without Jesus.

I can’t stop worrying – without Jesus.

I can’t – but God can.

There are some very worthwhile things that I want to do and am working hard to do, but trying to do them successfully on my own is wearing me out. I’m not purposefully leaving God out. I have grown up learning that anything I want I can get, if I work at it hard enough. It’s not easy to re-train my brain to remember that it is by the grace of God that I can do anything. Even for that I need the grace of God! I’m having to unlearn the concept of complete independence in everything I do, and learn anew that my hope for success only comes as I put my hope in Christ.

I wonder if this was sometimes how the apostle Paul felt too? He grew up in a very “do-ing” oriented society too. Everything in his world was saturated with understanding the need for God, but everything they did and said was still heavily based on doing all the right steps to make sure God was happy with you so that you would be blessed. All the “do-ing” led to a culture of believing that if a person didn’t do the right things, bad things would happen to them and any kind of success would elude them. Yet, God’s reply to them, and to me too is that “He [God] gives more grace…God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble…Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:6-8a)

“I don’t know how to do this though, Father.”

“That is why I’m here to help you.”

“But I’m a fixer. I’m a do-er. I need a step-by-step guide of how to depend on you and not try to do everything myself.”

The Father laughs.

Through His chuckles The Father replies, “Even as you are learning to depend on me and how to use the grace I’ve given to you, you still are trying to get a list so you can do it yourself, little one.

You are like me in many ways. I created you that way. But remember, I AM the Fixer. I AM the Restorer. I AM the Success Maker. I AM the Wisdom you seek. Yes, you can learn from me, but there will always be things that you will need my help with. Take My Son for example. While He was on the earth, He still had to depend on me for many things, from simple things like food to very hard things like willingly putting Himself on the cross so that you and everyone would be able to have everything you need for life and godliness. He didn’t do it by Himself – you can’t do it all by yourself either, little one.”

“But I can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You’ve called me to so much. So where do I start with depending on you?”

“Right here. This is where you start. Start with me. Start with asking for help. I have grace even to help you with that. A little later today, when you need to speak to your daughter differently – stop and ask for my help. When your patience is wearing thin – stop and ask for my help. When you feel like giving up – ask for my help. When you wonder why you’re doing any of this or when the next difficulty will ever be over – talk to me. Bring it to me. I’m here to help you. I’ll be the strength you need in those times when you feel your weakest. I have all that you need. Absolutely everything.

You can do this, if you do it with Me.

Kingdom Living

I’m Hungry

 

“I’m too hungry!”

This is a declaration I often hear from my 5 year old, usually at the end of the day when dinner time isn’t coming fast enough. It is such a strong feeling for her that everything she knows she’s capable of doing, like walking, ceases to be possible. She will even drop to the floor as if she had been wandering through the desert for days without food and water and look up with this face of “I can’t do it any more! I’m too hungry to move!” While this is quite comical to read, and the first few times she did this were also a little funny, it slowly became habitual and of course, as good parents, we have not permitted it to go on and are working to help her correct this behavior. We acknowledge that she’s hungry and then remind her that she does have to walk and that we of course are going to get her food to nourish her body.

Its amazing how life, especially with my children, intersects with spiritual truths.

When my babies were babies, they couldn’t talk and tell me how hungry they were. They would cry or reach for food on their own, when they got older and could do sign language they communicated a little bit better, but for the most part, it was entirely up to us to figure out when they needed to be fed and then to provide them with that food. 

When I was a “baby Christian” the same was true of me with God. I didn’t know how to find what I needed to fill my spirit and I didn’t know how to ask God for help or how to recognize His voice when I was feeling discouraged or angry or needed wisdom about the next step to take (1 Peter 2:2-3). The Father faithfully made Himself available to me in so many ways, things I didn’t even know at the time were helping me and “feeding” me. I regularly attended church and most days I read the Bible. I also listened to good Christian music that encouraged and strengthened my spirit, read Christian novels that contained messages of truth relating to God’s Word, creative outlets like drawing and writing that I was able to use to express both my needs and my adoration, and I had relationships with people who loved me, lovingly challenged me, and taught me how to apply godly principles. The Father lovingly and graciously provided all of this “food” to me so that I could grow and not be “too hungry”.

As my babies have grown, they have become more able to wait for mealtimes but also more able to get food on their own. My five year old can get snacks from the fridge like yogurt, cheese, fruit, bread – easy stuff that doesn’t require any cooking. My ten year old however can do a bit more like make sandwiches and cereal and even cook eggs or mac ‘n cheese. As they have grown, we have taught them how to find and make food on their own and they have also asked to learn with us when we’re cooking.

As I have grown with God, I can look back and see similar seasons where I’ve learned how to find and go after my own spiritual food. Through church services and special events like youth camp, vacation Bible school, Bible study groups, etc. The Father has taught me how to pay attention to the whispers of His still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13), how to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), how to worship with literally everything in me (1 Samuel 6:14), how to study the Bible so that I can understand the rich morsels He has placed there (Colossians 1:9-12), and most importantly how to pray – how to talk to Him, to communicate with Him about my needs and my joys, my concerns and my greatest appreciation and admiration (Matthew 6:5-34). I have grown from being entirely dependent on God just putting things in front of me, to depending on God to provide the ingredients so that I can eat and drink full meals that we make together. I still have a long way to go before I’m cooking up gourmet dishes to feast on with my kingdom family, but The Father is such a patient Teacher. He always provides the best ingredients, making the food rich, healthy, and perfect for my soul. From time to time I stay out of the kitchen a little too long and start to feel my spirit grumble. I sometimes walk up to The Father and say “Daddy, I’m so hungry, I’m starving for more!” (Psalm 42:1-2) And He so graciously reminds me He’s never left me to fend for myself and points me in the direction of the ingredients (the Bible, worship music, prayer) and sometimes even starts pulling things out of the pantry (a new song, a scripture I’d forgotten, a short text message from a loving person). He places them in my hands and we begin cooking together again.

There is also a bit of caution that we have to take as parents, that our children don’t just eat sugary sweets and carbs all day, but that we provide and even insist on healthy food like broccoli, carrots, proteins, etc. If I don’t have healthy foods in the house, they can’t eat them. If I don’t provide a way for each of them to get these healthy foods at their individual skill level, they will reach for the un-healthy foods every single time, and it never satisfies them. They are still hungry. 

The same is true for me and the food my spirit needs. The “mountain top” worship experiences or sermons or special events or miracles are so amazing and are a stark reminder to me of the distinct power of God, however they are not the only food I need. I have to eat daily – not weekly or monthly. When I wait until Sunday church services to receive from The Father, I only get a little bit and while it is really good, it doesn’t satisfy me, it doesn’t keep me full all week long. When I experience a great sermon or conference or witness a miracle, the wonder and amazement of that lasts for a little while, but just like a sugary or carb-loaded snack doesn’t keep my body full and satisfied, neither do those encounters with God keep my spirit full and satisfied. They are good and useful for encouraging me and reminding me of God’s goodness, but by themselves, they don’t build up my spiritual muscles. The Father daily provides experiences and truth for my spiritual and eternal health and growth, but I have to use them for that. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-5) They don’t always “taste” as good as the thrilling, emotional experiences – in fact sometimes its like choking down kale – but ultimately it brings greater joy and satisfaction and the best of all, growth in holiness. This holiness I’m growing up in is The Father’s greatest and best for me.