Chapter 1: Day 5 – At the King’s Table

Welcome to Day 5 of Chapter 1 for Arise & Shine, a devotional written by Bettie Gilbert.

“’Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’ And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.”  2 Samuel 9:7,13

The story of Mephibosheth, the one Scriptures say “was lame in both feet,” always touched a deep chord in my young heart. Here was a boy who was the son of Jonathan, and the grandson of King Saul—the one who tried to have David killed. Yet when his entire family was killed, and his home was destroyed, King David invited him into his own Royal Palace, all for the sake of the covenant made with his father, Jonathan, years before. 

As I first heard that story decades ago, something critical to my way of seeing was planted in my child-like heart. And when God saw that it was time, He reawakened the earlier question by asking a second question.

Is it true that the King of Heaven would really invite me to HIS own table?

And how can that be possible, since I have only grown more disfigured over the years?

As chronic illness stripped away my old way of living, I wondered what would happen as the years progressed. Would I be able to bear up under the pain? Would bitterness finally one day take root? I felt powerless to stop the darkness I felt as I watched my own lameness grow more pronounced.

As the chronic pain and inflammation wore away at the strength of my feet and ankles, another label was placed onto my identity: lame and slow. How could the King, the perfect Royal One, ever look on me as beautiful again? Would I ever be found worthy to come to His table?

And then He opened the pages of a long-forgotten story. He placed my heart in the open air of HIS royal Temple, and He invited me in, showing me the seat next to His own dear Son. Joint-heir with Jesus, He called me: “Come inside with me! The Kingdom of God is within you. I am not offended by your pain, and I am already here, waiting for you to open the door.”

Feasting With The King

Where is my home?
Where is my dwelling place?
Everything I’ve known
What I’ve seen
Has been devastated

What can I do?
Where can I belong?
Everything I’ve done
Where I’ve worked
Has been swept away

How should I feel?
How is life to be lived?
Everything I’ve tasted
What I’ve shared
Has been covered up

I hear a voice
Speaking my name
Ushering an invitation
And setting me on a new path
All for the sake of a choice
Made on my behalf
An eternity ago

How is the table spread
Here before me now?
How is the King’s house
The place of my dwelling?
Why would my name
Be the one He calls?

He sets me at His Home
He calls me His child
He opens the door

All for the sake of Love
All for the sake of Covenant
A kindred heart promised
A kindred heart responded

And suddenly my lameness
Doesn’t matter anymore
The King calls my name
Feasting at HIS table
Eating of His bread
Forever I belong with Him.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21 KJB

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the voice of Your invitation. We pause and shake ourselves when we first hear Your call. How can it be? We know of our lameness all too well. We don’t belong at the Royal Table, and we aren’t worthy to feast with You.

Oh, but thank You for the gift that You poured over our hearts when YOUR own son entered the covenant of grace on our behalf! Now You call us worthy because of HIM, and You seat us at the table of Your presence to feast with You.

Help us to receive the joy of Your presence today. Help us to rest at Your table with You. And help us to lift our voices in praise of Your son, our Savior Jesus.

In His name we pray,

Amen.

Thanks to Andreas Rønningen @andozo for making the profile photo for this post available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/S2YssLw97l4

The Alpha and Omega

Jesus has very specific instructions on where to go and where not. So, each place we are led to, even if it ends in a breaking, we can be sure, was always purposed by Him.

Jesus knew many Jews’ hearts would be hardened and yet He went to His own first. For that was always His plan: to restore the House of Israel unto Himself and to keep the covenant He had made unto them.

And yet it is because they did not at first receive Him, that the grace of God could be extended to us Gentiles:

John 11:11-13 ESV
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Likewise, when the Good News we share today is not received in the places God leads us to, we need not fret and be discouraged. For, when one door closes, another always opens.

And even then, that place we have obediently left behind, has been surrendered into the hands of our mighty Savior. It’s not the end of the story for those we have given into His hands. Nor is it for us.

Just look at this beautiful Promise given to the Jewish people. That shut door upon their hardening hearts was never God turning His back! They may have stumbled, but held safe in the Promise, they could never “fall”, for their weakness and stumbling was always known by God and purposed to open the door to us Gentiles. An open door that would make His own jealous and draw them back home also:

Romans 11:11 ESV
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

Yes, God’s love is steadfast and sure. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus. I know it to be true. I only stand here preserved in the breath of God because my God could not forsake the Promise – His Son – in me. Every time I have stumbled, He has caught me in His grace.

Now, as I look back on the seven years since He brought this lost sheep home upon His shoulders, I see all the places God led me into and back out of with new eyes. I now no longer see them as my failings or proof that I don’t belong to Jesus.

I see them as tangible evidence of God’s sovereign completion. I see God purposely opening and shutting each door to teach me so much about who He is. And I see Him redeeming my past.

When I was little, I chose to see the closing door to His Word speaking through me, as His closing door to me and to those I loved, who He had called me to intercede for. And that decision to clothe myself in the whispers of the enemy had me pack my bags and leave my God, believing He had left me.

But more than twenty years later the Word I had spoken in obedience as a little girl, reaped the fruit of repentance for which it was sent. Not because I remained faithful but because of God’s faithfulness to us all. And right when that Word was received, my eyes were opened, as my Good Shepherd picked me up out of my thorn bush to carry me home.

Now, I can see that every place I poured out my heart in – His heart in me – He was ALWAYS present. For, I now recognize Him in the faces He set before me, in my own face, in our interactions with each other and even in our breaking apart.

For, He was (and still is) the:

  – living bread and living water in our hunger and thirst
  – the peace in our storm
  – the faith in our faithlessness
  – the mercy in our rebellion
  – the compassion in our pain
  – the surrender in our clinging
  – the wholeness in our brokenness

Now, I know that I will see Jesus fully unveiled in each one of us, when He returns. “Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, The Berean Study Bible).

And because of all these closed doors, I now know that my God is about to take His Word places it would have otherwise never gone. For, I do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of my God (Matthew 4:4).

Five years ago, He woke me up to read the story of Him feeding the five thousand and that very morning my then little three year old said: “Mama, Jesus is hungry for the bread and the fish.” She affirmed what God had spoken to me.

There were 12 baskets left over on that day Jesus fed five thousand with the lunch the little boy gave Him. 12 baskets filled with bread and fish. Jesus told me: “Anna, don’t you see? I am already with the fish. My broken Body is already lying right next to the fish.” And those 12 baskets are the 12 tribes of Israel.

Did you know my father-in-law’s name means “exalted Father” and my husband’s name means “behold a Son” and my name means “grace”. Each of us carry names given to important Jewish men and women. Even in that I see God speaking of His Promise of restoration and redemption.

This is the tenth installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These installments of her testimony are God’s answer to all of us who have walked a path of trauma and heartache, believing our God has abandoned us. For He has never ever forsaken us and He wants us to know it, and to see the fingerprints of the Cross – and His unending love for us – all over our lives. For the first installment see: Love Never Ends