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A Table full of Strangers

Carter Tenszen
A Table full of Strangers

How often do our children minister to us? How often do we look for those opportunities? During our ‘Come for Supper’ event, I had the pleasure of observing a purity in nature that can often be overlooked. 

As we were planning the night, we thought it would be a good idea for the kids to eat first. This was decided for more practical and ‘selfish’ reasons, designed for the benefit of us adults to more enjoy our meal, to converse and connect without the distractions of children nipping at our attention. There were 9 of them with ages ranging from 6 months to 8 years old. Convinced this was the best course of action we set the table appropriately and gathered them in. 

The children took their place and began to eat, which in of itself is a rarity in our home. The parents were hovering around the table as personal servants leaning on every beckon call, selflessly waiting to answer any and all needs. And to our surprise, few requests were made. They ate, they behaved, they were quiet…

I’m not sure if it was the sheer surprise, terror or shock of all these strange new faces at the table that kept them in line, or the studious process of analyzing each new and odd personality, wondering who each other were, curious as to how they got here, and how they were going to play once the eating ceased. 

They finished their meals and began to play. Upstairs, downstairs, at our feet, hidden from view, they played. They gathered around toys, puzzles, bikes and activities. They knew what to do as this is what they do best! Sure there were some, “share that”s and “not so rough”s, but they are kids, what can we expect?! 

After a while of playing, we gathered them back to the table for dessert. Parents assumed their posts manning their positions. Then the ministering began. This time around they were not so stoic, not nearly as silent. Rather they were loud and boisterous! They developed a new game in which I still don’t understand, but it brought them so much joy. They were raising their hands and laughing and making up words and living in total freedom! What a beautiful site, a table of strangers laughing together, enjoying each other’s company.  As I watched, sadness, jealousy and wonder welled up inside and I began to question, “When was the last time I lived free; free of inhibitions, perspectives or insecurities?” “At what point in my life did I become so ‘self-aware’ and acquire this knowledge which can be so crippling?” 

I remember being free, so filled with joy as a child. I remember my siblings say to their friends, “Watch this”, and then proceeded to simply say my name, then to watch with anticipation as I cracked up, not being able to withhold my laughter. Nothing could hold back my laughter! What was so funny? Why was it so easy to just ‘be’? Where did that go? 

The last few Sunday messages for me have been extremely exposing because they are encouraging to enter into His presence, ‘as you are’. And to not just walk by but to linger and abide; to stay long enough that it may feel uncomfortable, or that you are intruding. To sit and withstand the excuses, distractions and allow Him to cultivate up those places in your heart that are heard far too often. Lies that we accumulate along the way steer us into hiddenness, to live remote, unknown and unseen. 

I have never sat with Him long enough to wonder if I am wasting His time. Maybe He has better things to do? I don’t know if that is possible, and I probably don’t have the patience to find out. I have a feeling that He would wait me out, only wanting me to leave when He calls me out, yet still, to abide. 

There comes a point in our lives when we become self-aware. I’ve been trying to remember when that happened in my life. When was the moment when I felt exposed or unsafe?  I think it was in summer camp when I was a kid, and my peers started calling me ‘Giggles’. Innocent intentions can have deadly consequences. Maybe that’s the time when I felt unsafe to be me. Maybe that’s the moment where joy started to wither and hide itself from the sun. It was not created to live in the shadows but to be shared and enjoyed in relationship. 

“Then the eyes of them were opened…and they made coverings for themselves” 

“Who told you that you were naked?”

It wasn’t the nakedness that was the issue, it was the shame that now accompanied it. Guilt with no redemption breeds shame unending. They were created to live free unto the Lord, but now were bound by the enemy. And thus, the plan of redemption was set into motion. 

We are on this journey of being healed, restored and redeemed. How great is He who is able to expose our sin; not leaving us there but desiring to bring us into an honest and open relationship with Him who can bring freedom; free from hurt, pain, the damages of life and the volatility of relationships, free to sit in His presence as long as our hearts desire. 

His redemptive work within each one of us is not brought to completion in isolation. We bear a collective glory as His spirit restores our spotlessness within the body. Only His spirit can unite and break down the walls we created. Walls created to protect will fall under the consistent, steadfast love of Him and His saints. 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:7-9

There is a table being prepared for us saints! Prepared alongside those who once may have been strangers and are now brothers and sisters. Our spotlessness and purity will be on display unapologetically with no fear of rejection or wonder if it will be accepted. 

Journey On! 

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