As of late I have realized that our dining room table is showing the wear and tear of 10 years upon its surfaces. There are dings and dents, bumps and bruises, the upholstery is ripping in spots and the edges of the chairs are bearing marks of being pushed into far. Theres a chunk missing on the bottom of one of the leaves where Ruby got bored as a puppy and decided to give it a whirl as a chew toy.
I would easily say we have had more than a thousand people sit at that table over the last decade. That table has heard laughter and tears, been subject to make an instrument with what you have at the table time, housed game boards and paperwork, not to mention the amount of meals it has sat under. We have had birthdays, taco nights, soup feeds, thanksgivings, friendsgivings, Christmas dinners and the like served around it. We have at times had upwards of 20 people stacked around it, many times in dining rooms much to small to the untrained eye. It holds secrets and stories.
And so when realizing that maybe it's time to replace or refurbish our table it has brought up much thought and reflection. I have asked myself many questions about why we have had so many people in our house over the years. I have wondered why I do not remember stress or anxiety in feeding mouthes or in some cases doing dishes for days? Why what I remember most is the joyous and treasured time we have spent around it? I can remember specific tears and specific laughter. I remember specific meals and menus. Faces and family and babies and children. I remember more than I remembered that I did at first. And it brings so much thankfulness to my father in heaven for always giving us more than we have deserved. For preparing us to be people who love and desire to share.
There have been questions from others too in the past about the amount of people we have in our home on a regular basis. How do you afford the food alone? Don't we get tired? Don't we need to be alone? The questions go on and on.
The answer to this is maybe more complicated than not. I have shared before how we feel about our home in relation to others. I have shared our vision for our home and the like. I can tell you that we have been provided for over and over again to share even more each and every time I feel like it may be tight. Sometimes we can afford to have nachos and other times we can have prime rib, either way I know that it does not matter much what we are having though its more about the time spent and the memories created and shared. Sure we get tired sometimes, never resentful though. There have been nights that I catch myself putting on an evening pot of coffee while I pray for the spirit to be present in our home, reminding myself through prayer that I do not need to be the one to carry the evening, all I am doing is providing a place for others to receive. As Jagers we have found that although alone time can be good and beneficial, we feel extremely and wholly called to a life of togetherness, a life of shared community. We want our children to grow up with a noisy house full of people that we love knowing that they can be loved amongst what is sometimes organized chaos.
There is something quite magical that can happen when you share a meal. There is so much sharing that can go on when you are all able and sometimes forced to sit around a table and stare at one another. There is so little time to do that these days. And I believe that it becomes more sacred all the time.
We have opportunity in our homes to share what we have so sweetly been given. There are very lovely things that can happen when you invite others into to your home with Jesus in mind. Two themes I pray over when people are in our home, receive and experience. We invite people in so they can share and receive in what we have been given, not just in our things or our food but in our salvation too. We invite people in so they can experience the great love we have been given and share out of response to our redemption. That doesn't mean that things are ever perfect, in fact that isn't even the benchmark we are shooting for. It means that it is real and often raw. If you are at my table I am loving you the same as I love my little family, that means you are welcome to all I have to give. You are not a guest you are family! There are no orphans here.
The things that hold us back from sharing are often rooted in our belief that we are fatherless. The belief that things need to be a certain way. That are homes need to be spotless, that we need to be able to cook, that we need to have time to prepare, that we need to have more money, that we need a bigger house or space. But I can tell you after many years of having my house full to the brim more times than not in many different financial situations, in small houses and in big ones, when housekeeping wasn't a strength and when it was more of a possible priority, that the spirit is not picky. He need nothing more than what you have already been given to work with. Waiting may provide you with the things you think you need but your heart will not change on its own. You will need a savior for that job. You will need a realization of all of the gifts you have been given and death to your own needs and wants and desires. Because when people come into your home they won't always be gracious or helpful, they will break things and make messes and you will have the opportunity to love them anyways. And not because you yourself are naturally kind, or humble or gracious but because you have been loved and cared for by someone who made great sacrifice to do so. And that is when the true blessing will be felt.
I love our table, I love our home but more importantly I love the one who gave us all of it!
Happy Thanksgiving Friends! I am thankful for each of you and pray that your home or the one you are invited to this year is full of the spirit. That you can enter into it with less expectation and more gratefulness, less need and more to give, with a posture that is ready to receive and experience from the one who gave it all.