When I was 9 years old I had a tea party for Jesus and my stuffed animals. I set the places, laid the crackers and cheese, poured the water, and we all sat around in a circle; except for Jesus. His spot was empty. I didn't expect Him to join us really, I hoped, I asked, I kept eyeing the crackers and cheese to see if He was eating some while I was unaware. The plate stayed full and the spot empty.
I was 9 years old and incredibly lonely. My parents worked 14 hour days, we lived in a business district with no friends in which to play with, and I desperately wanted Jesus to come and sit with me. I knew He was in my heart, but I wanted to see Him, to know I really mattered enough that He would show up for a child's tea party and eat crackers and cheese.
Last week in church Pastor told us how in Jewish tradition they would pray with their arms held out like someone waiting for them to be filled. It is an invitation for God to fill your empty arms.
An invitation to trust that God will show up, that He will fill that which is empty. It is a figurative letting go of that which you are holding in order to make room for the filling.
It is an invitation of trust. You are trusting God and not yourself.
I have held onto much. Too much. I have filled myself up and have been afraid to let it go. I have been afraid that my life would be that empty chair, that I would make space and He wouldn't come. (I am not talking about salvation, that I was sure of.) Figuratively, I would always be that lonely girl eating cheese and crackers on her own.
At church when the Pastor suggested that we hold our arms out as we prayed I realized just how hard of an action this was for me. It seems so simple, "Just open your arms up, woman!" I told myself. "Just do it, why is this so hard?". I didn't know why it was hard, just that it was, but I did it anyways. I opened my arms up and they were filled with a quieting peace. I let go of that tiny bit of control and He filled.
That was on Wednesday.
On Friday, I went to talk to the Pastor about things I have been holding onto and that hold onto me. The last time I talked to him he suggested that I read a book by Neil T. Anderson called "Victory Over Darkness". I had read it and figured we would talk about that, but the conversation went another way. Pastor brought up great points that made me think. When I came home I had forgotten to say some things that I had wanted to say, so I emailed them to him.
A big theme of the book is that we are a new Creation in Christ. I have never understood that statement. I mean I understand it conceptually, but not experientially. I have been a Christian since 3 and so this is what I wrote that afternoon: "... in the book he mentioned a lot about the before you knew Christ and the after you knew Christ...that whole new creation concept..... well, I have ALWAYS known Christ, so not only is there not that feeling of difference, but everything that has happened to me or by me has always been done while in Christ, so it almost makes me angry when he brings that up so much in the book and I am not sure why anger is the emotion that comes up in it but it is."
This was his reply to that: "What I want you to discover is that though you have made mistakes since being in Christ, THAT is who you ARE. When things happen when we are young, it shifts how we see ourselves moving us into deception about who we really are. Even when one becomes a Christian young, if how they see themselves becomes contorted by the lies of the enemy, they will still act in ways that do not reflect who they really are. It is like if a prince is kidnapped and is raised by paupers, he IS a prince but he lives like/acts like a pauper and does not access the riches due his true place in life. THAT is what has happened to you. More than anything I want you to get (I mean REALLY GET) who you are REGARDLESS of what you did or what was done to you. How do you think you can do that?"
Honestly, I had no idea just how I was going to do that. I gnawed on it in the back of my mind all afternoon. Then that evening the prompt for that week's Five Minute Friday was truth. I had no idea what was going to come out in it, I just sat and wrote. As I wrote the answer to his question came. I need to stop holding onto all the how's, the why's, and the lies and just walk in that truth that was staring me in the face. The ones I had read about in the book, the ones I have heard about all my life but have never been able to feel, see, or believe for myself.
I need to realize that the spot at my table might have been left empty, but the reality is that Christ has set a spot for me at His table with so much more than crackers, cheese, and water. I need to be the one to show up. It is showing up at His table, not mine, that feeds a hungry heart and comforts a lonely little girl.
It is His truths I need to follow. They are what will lead me to the table not the lies that left me torn and bleeding in the brambles . I need to turn and walk in who I am in Him. I don't want fear to keep me sitting at my own little table staring at an empty chair just because I am afraid that His invitation somehow wasn't really meant for me.