Sometimes, I pretend I'm brave. I laugh loudly and act bold. I use jokes to hide my fears and stand tall in hopes that it will prove to people that my confidence comes from within.
But He makes me brave.
Redefining brave is a hard thing to do. All my life, I thought being brave meant being loud and outgoing. I thought it meant being first at everything. Turns out it just means complete surrender to the Maker of the universe and letting go of anything that this world may think of you. Being brave is all about accepting. Accepting the fact that your fears, insecurities, and anxieties were drown in an ocean of perfect love by the One who sees us, knows us, and loves us. It's a great realization - one that has transformed my heart and lifted a heavy burden off of my shoulders to be something I'm not. It's allowed me to extend grace to others and myself. It's allowed me to come and sit at the table with confidence.
Being brave is having confidence in something much bigger than yourself - it's having confidence in the fact that everything will be okay with Him on your side.
At the table - we laughed, we ate, we worshipped, we loved.
There's something really special about being invited to someone's home. When someone invites you over, they go out of their way to prepare their house - all to make you feel at home away from home.
We are invited because we're wanted and requested by Him.
When we share a meal, we share our lives. We tell stories, we laugh, we eat. There is nothing more beautiful than being at a table sharing a meal. Jesus is constantly showing me here that I am invited to share a meal with Him. He doesn't invite me out of pity, but instead actively seeks me out because He died on the cross just for that reason. In order to invite me. To prepare a place for me. For us.
While being in South Africa, I've shared many meals with many people. I've shared chicken curry and rice dinners with my home-stay family. I've shared pasta dinners with my cohort that fills up our stomachs just a little too much, but never enough to skip dessert. But that's not all. Sharing a meal with someone doesn't necessarily have to include food. All it calls for is a listening ear, a willing heart, and a brave spirit. Being invited is about engaging. It's about taking the time to hear someone's story and the lessons they've learned along the way. Fellowship. It's about engaging with a God who pursues us and wants us to come to the table in confidence.
We are all invited. Always. Despite the constant voice in our heads that tells us we aren't worthy and aren't wanted at the table, we are always invited. We are not only invited, but we are called, to engage in the lives of the people around us, regardless of their background. Our hearts were made for it.
Trust me, it'll be okay. Go. Be bold. Be humbled. Be brave. Stop thinking that you're not good enough or you're too good for the people at the table. Taking my seat at the place that Jesus shed his blood to prepare for me was the best decision I ever made.
I'm constantly humbled when I come to the table, thinking that I might bless someone when really I'm the one being blessed.
There's something really beautiful about coming to the table in our brokenness. We are raw, we are pure, we are ourselves. Despite the kinks that we might have to work out, we are called worthy by God. Whether it's sharing a meal or just having a conversation over coffee, we are called to engage in our brokenness. To engage in something much bigger than ourselves. When our hearts are broken from what breaks His, there's so much more space for Jesus to shine His light through the cracks. It's amazing the things that He does when our hearts break for the people around us and we get to carry their burdens with them.
Being invited means to be sought out by someone to engage in something. How beautiful is it that the Creator of the universe invites us to be known by Him? Being invited to the table is all about grace. Unchanging grace - His grace. Coming to terms with the fact that we're not perfect and never will be makes coming to the table so much easier. It makes life so much more joyful and moments so much sweeter.
Don't be fooled, coming to the table is not the perfect life you always imagined. Sometimes, you'll hear hard stories from the others at the table or maybe you'll come with some scratches and bruises yourself. You can't un-hear these things. You can't un-see what God has put in front of you. Once you sit, you have a responsibility to do the stories that you hear justice. They are a testament to God's faithfulness. They are a sign of His hope. They are a love letter from Christ Himself.
Good thing there's no dress code for engaging with others and living life in the light of His glorious creation.
Scratches and all, He waits for us to come.
When I get to the table, I look for Him. I don't see His seat. But then I realize that He's in each person around me. I see His light spirit and contagious joy in the person sitting right across from me. I smile at the beautiful exchange that happened at the table. His blood for my seat.
I want to actively choose to engage. Put my phone on silent and look up. Notice the people around me that God has so intricately designed for His glory. Let the sweet melodies around me be a new song in my ears. Smile at humankind a little more. Laugh at myself often. Never take for granted everything that God has made the community around me to be.
As the semester ends, I want to be fully present. Listening to the people around me and hearing what they really have to say instead of the bits and pieces of their stories I choose to hear is a good start. They are worth it. We are worth it.
Today, give God a chance to show His unfailing faithfulness by accepting your invitation.