The Family Table

The Family Table
March 25, 2021 Bridgette Tomlin

If you scroll through my social media feeds you’re likely to find a collection of only a few lanes that represent a much wider variety in our actual lives. While God has provided a vast array of outlets for me as an individual, my husband and I as a couple, our family, and a thriving ministry, I share very little on a public platform. The reasons for that? Well, that’s for another post. But as I look over my own social media feeds from time to time, I almost find it humorous how many posts I’ve actually shared about our family’s table.

To some it probably seems rather redundant. To others, it might even seem ridiculous. But to me, it screams loud and clear what I have come to find is quite sacred to me personally. Meals shared around the family table have become a source of joy and peace to my life.

This evening was no exception. Chresten came home from nearly two weeks on the road and, after a grueling week of me playing the single working mom, a full school week for our daughters, and preaching six services in four days for Chresten, we are all quite exhausted! And cooking after such a week? It seemed to be downright inconvenient. But after we sat to table with the bounty that God had provided, I had prepared, and Chresten had grilled, I was all the more thrilled to sit and listen to the lively conversations shared and the laughter that freely filled the room. As I began to fill the dishwasher, I began to thank the Lord. I thanked Him for bringing my husband home. I thanked Him that, despite the long days of doing life without Chresten, God has been so gracious to allow us to remain in full-time evangelistic ministry and opened doors for Chresten to preach the Good News every single week from pulpits and every single day in his daily activity. I thanked the Lord that as a family we still enjoy one another when many will tell you that relationships can be tough with teen and tween girls.

As I was pouring out my gratefulness, the Spirit gently nudged my heart and reminded me:  “I love the Family Table, too.” You see, this past year I’ve watched the Church of Jesus Christ, His Bride, walk through some grueling experiences. Many church doors were shut for months and months, some remain so today. And while much of that was necessary, even mandated by our government in certain places, the closed doors in many ways opened doors of convenience and sedentary habits for many who once frequented the local church for worship. Has it dawned on us that failing to frequent the Family Table might grieve our gracious Host?

Has it dawned on us that failing to frequent the Family Table might grieve our gracious Host?

As a host of family dinners myself I can tell you that when I am expecting my guests or family members to arrive, I go to great lengths to prepare a spread that will entice those I’ve invited. It may not always be elaborate or gourmet, but it’s always hot and on the table when it’s time to sit down together. If I’m being honest, it rattles me when I call them to table and they delay, have other things that are of greater importance at the moment, or don’t even bother to acknowledge that I’ve called. The family table is important as it’s where we share the happenings of the day, give updates about the days ahead, bear one another’s burdens, offer thanks, and encourage each other. Often a word of instruction is given or scolding from the parents takes place. But we always leave better than we came.

The Family Table found in the House of Worship should never be dismissed when the invitation is issued. If the Church is open, we should be there. The Holy Spirit makes the call as He has prepared a table filled with the beauty of His presence, the nourishment and challenge of His Word, and the strength that comes from His people all about us. There’s just nothing like the Family Table. But if we aren’t careful, the fast food lane of online worship and the convenience it provides through the screen while we lounge on the couch soon becomes all too satisfactory. We munch on the Word rather than feast on it. We are satisfied with mediocre community through shallow means rather than eye-to-eye, face-to-face, side-by-side connection. We allow fear to trump faithfulness.

We allow fear to trump faithfulness.

Before you think I’m painting with too broad of strokes here, please hear me:  there’s a percentage of citizens whose health is truly at risk and they must exercise increased caution. But there’s the majority of us who will need to rouse ourselves from our sleepy state and rally back to the Table in search of something we’ve forgotten we truly crave in the depths of our souls:  the meat of His presence.

In our household, when someone is sick they garner the privilege of having their meals served to them in the comfort of their own bed or our designated “Get Well Station” (aka the couch). But the day their symptoms are relieved, the fever is broken, and strength is rebuilding, they have to step over what has become quite a sweet deal of bedside service to rejoin the family at the table.

Likewise, let’s shake off the sleepiness of the past 12 months and stir ourselves to rejoin the family…at the Family Table.

I’ll meet you there,
Bridgette

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