I sat down and broke bread with a friend this week.
Her sandwich involved fried jalapenos. Mine? Chipotle mayonnaise.
And sitting at a small metal table outside of a gas station (we’re fancy people, y’all), both my body and my heart were fed. We laughed and we reconnected and we talked about family and work and faith and…tables. Not the long stretches of wood with four legs attached to them. Not those kinds of tables.
We were talking about the “tables” so many of us long to sit at.
The executive tables.
The tables where the popular people sit.
The tables reserved for the people up front. The people who matter. The people who are big and smart and super important.
Those kinds of tables.
And we talked about how we can fight and claw and work and manipulate and schmooze our way into a seat, only to get there and find out it isn’t all we thought it would be. And sometimes we even look back and see the high price we had to pay (or that our family had to pay) – all so we could get a seat at that table.
And none of this is condemning leaders or those who are high up in whatever field they may be in. This isn’t me saying they got their seats the wrong way and they should be ashamed of themselves. Not at all. We need leaders. I need people smarter than me doing all of the important stuff I can’t do. (See. I just used the word “stuff”. I obviously need smarter people who use bigger words.)
For me, our conversation was a personal reminder that I need to check my heart on what I am striving for. It was one of those moments where you realize you need to decide what it is you really want to spend your one life on.
The Holy Spirit nudged me with a telling question on my way home from lunch.
Do you want to make a difference or do you want to be famous?
I shifted uncomfortable in the seat of my minivan.
Because did you know that there are “tables” in Christian circles?
And I have felt somewhat like I am in high school – this awkward and invisible girl who doesn’t seem to quite fit in anywhere and who feels so very small. I look around and I see all of the ladies who are the “in” gals. And they tweet out sweet messages about each other’s books and speaking engagements. And they post pictures of themselves together having a grand time doing things that look fabulously fun all while being ministerially important.
And a secure heart would celebrate.
But I confess, this heart isn’t totally secure just yet. And there are days I have had to quit looking at my Twitter feed or my Facebook page because it feels like I am looking at the popular table. The table I was not invited to.
And I told my friend that I know, I know I could push hard and promote and connect and try to make something happen. I could make my way to some table somewhere. But that isn’t God’s plan for me or His best for me right now. I know He will open the right doors at the right time and place me at the right tables. And if I push and move outside of His will, it will dearly cost me and cost the precious people at my table – my sticky, crumb and school paper covered kitchen table.
Do I want to make a difference or do I want to be famous?
Because if I want to make a difference, I already am.
I don’t mean that in some prideful or boastful kind of way. What I mean is that we are all making a difference. Of course, we get to choose whether it is a good difference or a bad difference. But we are all making an impact at the tables where we are sitting. Whether it is where we pull up a chair over dinner with our family and our friends or where we sit across from coworkers with our bag lunches or how we sit down and pull up close to talk about the things that matter most to us in places like this blog.
I – by simply being me and being obedient to Him and by making Him known in all that I say and do – am making a difference.
You – no matter how small you may feel – are making a difference.
And it’s really none of our business to try to count up how big that difference is. God knows what He is doing, and He doesn’t need us to tell Him He isn’t doing a good enough job employing our gifts and talents and abilities in this world. (Oh. My. Toes. Did that hurt anyone else???)
I feel slightly exposed writing this all out. Because obviously I wouldn’t be writing it if part of me didn’t want to be famous. If part of me didn’t want a place at one of “those” tables. If part of me didn’t want to matter in the way the world says we need to matter. But I don’t think I am the only one who has ever wrestled with this.
So, sweet invisible feeling sister out there, I just want you to know this:
No matter what table you sit at.
I have foolishly thought for far too long that to make a difference for His kingdom I had to make it “big”. That I had to have a booming blog with a massive following. I thought in terms of numbers. But God reminded me that He doesn’t think like I do (Isaiah 55:8-9). And His math is nothing like my math. (He would leave the 99 for the 1. Not exactly “make you popular” math. And He can take food meant to only feed one and feed thousands. Unbelievable multiplying math.)
I need to stop counting to see if I count.
I need to stop looking around at everyone else’s tables, pull up a seat and simply rest at His table.
The table where I am always welcome.
The table where I get to feast on His presence and His Word and His love and His mercy and His grace.
The table Jesus paid a high price for me to have a seat at (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The table where there is room for everyone but no room for egos (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We keep trying to get the world to tell us we matter, and all the while, there is a table set for us, daily waiting for us to come and feast on all that will truly satisfy. A table that declares we mattered enough to die for.
So this is where this girl repents – for sometimes wanting what the world has to offer more than what the Lord has to offer, for forgetting how precious and amazing it is that I have a seat at the table with the King of kings, for trying to steal a little bit of His glory for myself so the world can think I’m something, for the times I have worshiped the people at those tables instead of the only One deserving of my adoration.
And repentance sounds like some awful thing we should avoid, but it isn’t. It’s a beautiful gift. The gift of being able to let the filth of your choices and words and attitudes and actions slide right off of you so you can sit clean at His table, enjoying His presence (Acts 3:19).
The world’s most exclusive tables?
They don’t tend to welcome the filthy, the broken, the hurting.
The Lord’s table?
He not only welcomes you just as you are, He even offers to wash you clean, to bind you up, and to make you whole (1 John 1:9, Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1-3).
What an invitation.
Lord, help us to use our influence well. The influence we have at the tables where You have placed us. Help us to love deeply, to share all that we have and all that we are fully, and to spend our days making You known every chance we get, no matter where we sit. And instead of vying for a seat at some worldly table, instead of waiting for some elusive invitation, may we invite people to come and sit with us. To sit at Your table and to taste and see that You are good. We love you, Lord. You and You alone are deserving of all glory and honor and praise. Amen.
I love you, friends. That you even come and sit and eat the words I serve up here? It is a gift. It is a blessing. And I humbly thank you.
And if this post resonated with you, I HIGHLY recommend reading Emily P. Freeman‘s new book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, when it comes out in August. This book is teaching me more about actually embracing “smallness” instead of hustling so I can be Big and Important. The Lord is using it to give me so much beautiful permission – to be small, to be me, to be His, to just BE. I love Emily’s heart, and I am loving this book.
Learning to Live for HIS Glory and to REST in His Love,
*** Photo credit ***