A dinner table is more than just a purchase made to accommodate members of a family… if a table could talk about what all was said, what stories could be told! But since tables don’t talk, I want to share a symbol that not only describes my family, but also depicts what I think it truly means to live as a Christ-follower.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15
I grew up in a very big (36 total), sarcastic, humorous and down right “religious” family! We spent a lot of Sundays crowded around two old wooden tables, scratched by utensils and worn by elbows and years of intense conversations. Understanding this you get a picture in your head of a bunch of people circled around the dinner table arguing and flailing their fists in the air for religious perspectives and arguments…at least I do. But on the contrary, my family happens to flail and argue in love, trust, and the most mind-boggling respect you could ever imagine.
So, here are four lessons I’ve learned from my family around our dinner table:
1. A relationship with God is everything
Most of my family was raised in a strict denomination. Rules regulated their lives and faith, so to them, religion was burdensome and legalistic. Now, though, they all have a real and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s incredible to see the freedom they have in God. My faith is not regulated by man, but only by God. He is a loving God, to be respected and worshiped. There is freedom in Christ, through the Cross, and in my family I know this is a treasure to be valued.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
My family embraces this verse wholeheartedly and we all encourage one another to stay strong and grow in faith. We pray and talk things out. Now, this is not to say we don’t have any troubles, but we all understand Who has control of every situation.
As a young teen I had the hardest time trying to understand God. I didn’t know why my parents and relatives could just entrust their lives wholly to a God who let bad things happen.
It wasn’t until the end of my high school career that it clicked! I dont need a religion, I need God and a relationship with Him only. The church, the pastor, and the congregation do not determine my eternity in Heaven or hell, only God has that power.
After I finally understood this, I began “seeking” God. He no longer felt distant, but so close I could feel Him. Since the moment I understood, I haven’t stopped pursuing Him and His call for my life. Let go of the noise and listen for God — He is the only navigator you need in life, and He will never lead you astray.
2. Breaking the cycle to leave a different legacy
From studying my family heritage and genealogy, I have looked into what makes the roots of our family tree so strong. One thing that is always brought up is the hope that our legacy as a family is one of faith. Coming from a place where people have had to actually change the path they were on and seek God is a redemption story in its own and one I hope its one that is never forgotten!
“Now, lo, if he (a sinner) beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like … but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.” -Ezekiel 18:14-17
A son may change his destiny that his father made by turning away from sins and walking towards God. No matter where you come from, if you choose to break the chain, God has big plans for you!
3. Your faith is not supposed to be grim
Laughter and joy are not uncommon around our table. In fact, it is almost normal to have a smile on your face! If anything, “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)!
Laughter is something I will never take for granted. To laugh and enjoy life is to give thanks to the One who created it. As life is supposed to be filled with joy, so should your walk with God. So, if something is stealing your joy, walk away because it’s obviously not what you are being called by God to pursue or spend your time on. In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa Terkhurst writes that saying no is not a negative thing, but is actually healthy for you emotionally, spiritually, and maybe even physically.
Our God is not a Zeus or Odin, to be feared into following commands or rituals. He is not a God of hate, but rather of love and compassion. Pray to Him, hold Him close, read His words and follow His plan. He only wants the best for you. Dont be scared to death of Him, rather find comfort in Him and praise His mercies!
Being a Christian doesn’t mean becoming a sad and burdened being. Take the joy He grants and the grace He gave and make the most out of the life He has given you. Be bold in Him, and on fire in the calling He has called you to!
4. The Holy Spirit shows up in the most amazing places!
Recently we all got to take a trip as a family to the mountains. The cabin we stayed in was tucked into the trees. The snow was deep and the air was fresh! One snowy night as we all gathered in the warm living room after our dinner. One of my uncles brought along his guitar and started playing worship songs. Eventually, stuffed into a somewhat little space, we all joined in the acoustical singing. It was beautifully peaceful and overwhelming, teaching me to never underestimate His presence in any situation!
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” -Matthew 18:20
I know that whenever I feel troubled by something, have questions or things to share, I can go to the Table and voice my thoughts. Its a safe place, a growing place, and where Love is constant!
// image by Jamie Taylor