Seated at the Table

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My story is about a little girl. This little girl stood with all the grown-ups in church each Sunday, singing the normal, everyday hymns. It was expected, accepted, and routine; in one ear and out of the other.  But one Sunday, the preacher said something that actually piqued her interest.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 KJV)

It grabbed her. “You mean I can have supper with Jesus?” she thought. There was no way she could understand what was happening to her in that moment. Was it the supper she wanted? No. It was relationship. Intimacy. The kind of closeness that weaves itself into shared meal. She didn’t…she couldn’t fully understand it.

This little girl grew in an adult. She dutifully followed the rules (for the most part). Everyone knew her as the good Christian girl. Until something occurred that threw everything into a tailspin. It caused her to question everything she had ever been taught. Some members of her church family lost their way for a time and hurt her family badly. The group of Christian girls she ran with seemed to turn on her. Was this Christian life? This was not what she signed up for.

All the good works these people put forth were suddenly hollow and meaningless. Church was hollow and meaningless. She wanted substance, so she left in search of more, swearing she’d never darken the door of a church like that again. She continued to read her Bible as hard as she could, but it, too, was empty, and eventually fell by the wayside. Like a frog in a slow warming pot, she gradually became more and more isolated and distracted by career aspirations and other pursuits.

Then came the birth of her son. Torn by the way this little guy captured her heart, she decided to leave her career and stay home, and that’s when the isolation and loneliness set in heavily. Not even completely aware of the depression that threatened at every angle, she finally prayed for community. It was a scary prayer, and it definitely didn’t include church, however two weeks later she received a call from a little-known acquaintance, inviting her to a MOPS meeting.

This is Amanda who called me an invited me to MOPS.
This is Amanda who called me an invited me to MOPS.

Excited about the prospect of answered prayer, she quickly looked up the website and her spirits immediately dropped when she saw it was associated with ONE OF THOSE churches. “Oh, No. What do I do?” she said. “Well, I’ll go the mom’s meetings. They can’t make me go to their church.”

And the meetings were a welcome relief to the loneliness. By the time the year ended, they wrapped it with a day of testimony. Her cynical side, still very much in play, thought, “Great. This is where I get to listen to all the stories of how, ‘MOPS changed my life.’” She almost didn’t attend.

Sure enough, Laura got up to speak. She shared a compelling story of an environment filled with drugs and alcohol, a baby born into the mix, and how these women introduced her to Christ. Well, she was prepared for a story like that. What she wasn’t prepared for was the side story Laura absent-mindedly shared because she was nervous.

Laura (left) and her sister had a huge impact on me.
Laura (left) and her sister had a huge impact on me.

Laura traveled to Phoenix the week before with all four of her children. Her three-year-old insisted they get on the phone and call Beth as soon as they landed. Not the best time to call when you’re juggling four kids, overhead baggage, and 300 people disembarking a plane.

“But moooooom. I haaaaave to call Beth. She said she wanted to hear about my trip and I have to call her riiiiiight now!”

Why was this insignificant side note so compelling? Because I saw a strong relationship between Laura’s daughter and another mom. Beth would always be there for her. My son was not going to have that kind of relationship with Beth, because I was keeping everyone at arm’s length. I was the little girl who wanted supper with Jesus, and I evolved into a woman who walked away from the table because I was afraid of getting hurt.

I went home rattled and confused. “Lord, what do you want to me do with this?” Even though I hadn’t been reading my Bible very much, I turned it open and read the first verse I saw.

“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.” Romans 14:1

Accept. Stop arguing. Stop being stubborn. That’s the moment my faith became MY faith and no longer my parents’ faith, that I had been working so hard for years to maintain, and failing. I cried that afternoon for three hours confessing and repenting my pride. I prayed, asking God what he wanted me to do.

I decided to risk the pain and dive into relationship with these women. God also asked me to start going to ONE OF THOSE churches, so I did. I volunteered to serve as soon as the first service was over.

I learned much of God's love through these women.
I learned much of God’s love through these women.

My journey with the Lord ever since has been intense and fruitful and worth every ounce of discipline. Today, his call on my life is to write, teach, and speak. He’s called me specifically to serve and invest and love on the women who are searching for God’s will. I plan to invest in a generation of women who cannot put out the fire God has placed within them. I plan to invest in a generation of women who want to ignite that fire.

My enthusiasm and desire has not ebbed a moment since that day; in fact it’s grown. My faith before was real and saving, I have no doubt, but it lacked any sign of life. My efforts now are springing forth out of love that God is liberally pouring out on me. Love, that for years I so desperately longed, but stubbornly feared. I have finally taken a seat at the table to sup with my Savior.

 

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Comments

    • says

      And I you! With all the reading you do, I am honored that my text is among what you read. I think about you daily. I pray every single day that you will have no doubt of God’s love that he shows you through everyone who loves you so much. Pull up a chair and sup!

      • Sandra Lillard says

        I read it, I respect it, and I think about it. If I ever find faith, it will involve you in some way because you are my shining star.

  1. Phyllis Chaloupka says

    Excellent Personal Testimony, Jen! I passed it on to two of my daughters’ who are believers! Thanks for sharing!!