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’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.

 

Conversations

Sweet, Sweeter, Sweetest

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119: 103

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Many Christians (myself included) often begin January with a kind of “reset” – a specific re-focusing on our individual relationship with God through renewed or increased prayer accompanied by fasting of some kind. Some go all out and do a “Daniel’s Fast” or further still some fast solid foods for a couple of weeks (so far the Holy Spirit hasn’t led me to do that one!). Usually I look forward to the beginning of the year reset and fast time. Usually I have a fresh excitement about giving the first-fruits of my entire year to God. Usually I ask the Lord a couple of weeks prior to the start of our “21 days” about what I should be praying about and focusing on and sacrificing as a constant reminder to talk to Him. This year however had a very different start. I don’t really know why (I haven’t given my very analytical brain the space to dive deep into that question), but I ended up not sacrificing anything and really justifying not fasting anything at all for the first 10 days of our 21 day fast. I had my quiet time with the Lord every morning and almost every morning would question what I should fast and if I even should fast. I wound up having full discussions with myself going back and forth: “To fast or not to fast? That is the question.” … My justification not to fast was that the only thing I seemed to be able to come up with doing was to fast sugar and I thought that was “too easy” and it felt more like a diet than a reminder to stop and talk to God. So I didn’t do anything.

But God, with the grace and perfect love for me that He has, continued speaking to my heart and one Sunday morning His voice was a little louder. Our pastor was talking about fasting just for a couple of minutes and mentioned something along the lines of “…if its so easy, why not just do it?” It was so brief and that wasn’t even the topic of his message. It was one of those God-voice things and I immediately latched on to it.

The next morning during my quiet time the Holy Spirit reminded me again “If its so easy, what is holding you back from doing this fast? What will it hurt to fast sugar in favor of extra time listening to The Father? Do you think He cares whether or not you started on the ‘right’ day?” (another of my justifications for not doing the fast) “He cares for your attention. Just start.”

So I did. I gave up sugar for the remainder of the 21 days. It didn’t all the sudden become hard, nor did I have huge, earth-shattering moments and even the temptation for sugar wasn’t that bad. But I did experience something different – a different sweetness.

The week that I gave up sugar, I was reflecting on the choice to fast sugar and again feeling like “Why am I doing this specific fast? Does it even mean anything?”

God is so good. His love is so tender. … and sweet.

As I was reflecting and reading, the Holy Spirit whispered to me that God Himself is the sweetness that I long for.

The name of Jesus is the sweetest name. His Word is sweet, “sweeter than the honeycomb”.

I gave up sugar, a physical sweetness, and then I saw even more all around me the sweetness of God. And He took me further and showed me that He wants me to be sweeter, just like He (my heavenly “Daddy”) is. He wants me to be sweeter towards others – to use kinder, more gentle words, to consider others before myself, to have more patience with my children and co-workers and family, to brighten someone’s day with a sweet smile, to speak life and hope and love – those sweet things that we all need to hear.

Throughout the rest of my sugar fast I was reminded again and again of the sweetest Name, the sweetest One, the sweetest Word, the sweetest Gift. And each time I reflected on my fast, I was warmed by the sweetest Love of God for me and also challenged to be the sweetness of Christ to the people around me.