The food was dropped in front of my face like I was a prisoner on the lunch line. To my left, an Aunt or Uncle would sit, spooning dish after dish onto the ornate china in front of me. Forks and knives clanked on plates and voices carried on in conversations that were coupled with the sounds of chewing. It was Thanksgiving dinner with my family, but why did everyone seem so far away? I looked up at the rest of them; smiling, laughing, looking down on me from their vantage point high above. The space between us (which was probably a few inches) felt like miles. Why was I being banished to this island? I turned to look at the others who shared in my fate. There sat a few of my younger cousins, and my older sister... Yup, another year at the kids table.
Alright, things were not that bad in my family. Actually, they were far from it, but almost every child has paid their dues at the “kiddie table.” Step into those little shoes with me for a moment, would you? It’s a “right of passage” to watch the adults mingling at the “big table.” With childlike wonderment, you’re humbled by the vast banquet set before them. You’re so close, yet so far. You just wait, longing for the time when you’ll get your invitation.
Maybe it was your age. Maybe it was your reputation as the "messy eater" or the one who always knocks over the drinks. Maybe it was just a lack of space to accommodate your little body. Regardless, we’ve all sat there, just waiting for a chance to occupy a seat with the big kids.
God has prepared a table in His kingdom. There is a celebration banquet going on right now. It’s a feast where the food never runs out, and the fellowship is second to none. God has extended an invitation to this party, welcoming you with open arms to share in the joy, the laughter and the bountiful harvest. Want to know the best part? There’s always open seating. Sound good?
So how is it that many of us still find ourselves at the “kid’s table?” Why are we sitting away from God’s side- away from the party- away from a feast with the Father? Well, some are banished by pride- distanced from God’s grace out of selfishness and a self-proclaimed license to sin. They willingly sit at that little table because they lack the humility to repent and accept God's invitation. Others are banished by shame- distanced by the feeling that they’re undeserving of a seat near the Lord. They sit at that little table under the belief that God’s invitation couldn’t possible be for them. Many of us live with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom, and our indecision (and refusal to commit fully to God) leaves us taking His invitation for granted. We end up in a constant shift, picking food off of both tables just to get a taste. Still others have simply missed the invitation completely, never realizing that it was given for everyone. They sit at that little table under the assumption that there’ couldn’t possibly be anything better.
What about you? Have you heard God’s call? Have you seen the banquet? Do you want in? The Father sits there now, inviting you to a life at His table. His Son, Jesus, sits close at His right hand, watching you- waiting for you. Can you see Him? He’s pulling back a chair now. He’s patting the seat with a smile, saying “my friend, take a better seat by me.” It’s open to you, and open to all who show humility in His presence. Jesus reaffirms this...
”Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them: ‘When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place. When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.’” -Luke 14: 7-12 (CEV)
The reminder is simple; we don’t belong at God’s table. We’re not worthy of a seat, well, not by our own merit. But, in understanding the riches of His love (through the expense of His Son) we can be humbled by the invitation we've received and further humbled by a mercy that should shake us to our core. His grace calls the undeserving "deserving." You don’t have to sit with the kids anymore, for you are His beloved, called to share intimately in His feast.
Grace has set the table. The food is hot. The napkins are folded. Don’t wave away His invitation out of pride, preoccupancy or other priorities. Admit your need (whatever it is) and come find it at the banquet. Empty vessels flock to the Father, run to the table of strength, healing, purpose and passion. Those with none will receive much.
“After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s kingdom!’ Jesus told him: ‘A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.” One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.” Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.” Still another guest said, “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there.” The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.” When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.” His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!”” -Luke 14: 15-24 (CEV)
So, don’t miss the banquet. Don’t miss a life of plenty by sitting where you don’t belong. Don't sell your soul short. Put down your fork, stand up, and accept a seat with the Father, and live a life worthy of the invitation you’ve received!