Last weekend we were out of town at our daughter’s volleyball tournament. All the girls were so excited to be staying in a hotel together without their parents in the room…and perhaps the parents were excited to have a hotel room without their kids!! The first evening we all had dinner together at a local restaurant and it was a fun time for the families to get to know one another off the court.
The next afternoon we were trying to put plans together about where we could go and thought we had it down when…it all fell apart. The girls were whining about the plans, other parents just dropped their kids off at the hotel and took off, the coach turned a cold shoulder and walked away in the middle of a conversation without a word. In a nutshell everyone simply chose THEMSELVES without thinking of anyone else. And as they did…I followed right along with them, but mine had some really good “righteous justification”!!
In my heart (and with my husband) I simply said “I’m done!” I was done trying to help pull together someone else’s plans…I was done worrying about how the girls with no parents around were going to get something to eat…I was done trying to communicate with a person who is repeatedly inconsiderate and immature. (I did go to the pool to be the “lifeguard on duty” because I didn’t want anything to happen to the girls…but I did it with a very bad attitude!)
I was sinking into the very thing that I was so mad about – selfishness, doing your own thing, individualism. And the sad thing? I kind of knew it, was trying to slap a “Jesus label” on it to make it all right, and wanted to wallow in it for a while. With my teeth gritted, arms crossed and eyes narrowed, I proceeded to state my very good case before the Almighty.
It was the next morning, however, when He answered me back. It was that gentle answer of God that pierces you to the core and makes you feel undone…don’t you love how He speaks?
I am reading a book right called The Circle of Seasons by Kimberlee Conway Ireton. It is about meeting God in the church year. In it the author made this statement:
In recognizing our sin and, with it, God’s mercy, we become able to face – and embrace – the reality that we are utterly dependent on God. The ashen cross we receive on Ash Wednesday, which reminds us of both our origin and our destiny, could be interpreted as a clarion call for charity. For charity begins with humility, the recognition that we share a common origin and a common destiny: we are all dust and to dust we shall all return.
(And here is the part that gripped my heart.) The despairing response to this declaration is “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The Christian response is to turn, marked as we are with the sign of our mortality, to the Lord’s table where we do indeed eat and drink, but soberly recognizing in the Bread and Wine the body and blood of Christ who died that we might live…It reminds us of who we are – human beings who depend utterly on the mercy and lovingkindness of God. Knowing this, we can extend to others the mercy God has extended to us….”
At this point I had to close the book because I was so fully convicted and my head was swimming. It is true that I am called to dine at the table on the body and blood of Jesus. Iif I am a Jesus follower (which I am) then that is the very food that sustains my life and gives me the energy to move in this world. In this meal that Jesus gave us, I feast on love, sacrifice, forgiveness, laying down my life, justice, kindness, compassion, holiness, death of my own will and probably a million other things that I don’t yet even comprehend. I dine on HIM and it is more than enough.
But what about all these other people? The ones that make me really frustrated? Though they may not come to the official communion table, the food I receive there can come to them. As we are together, do I offer them the mercy I have tasted? Do I take the morsels of forgiveness and compassion out of my pockets and share them? Do I offer them a long drink of love? I guess I began to wonder if…in my everyday life, do I give others a taste of the very body and blood of Jesus?
On the last day of the tournament, the girls won their first match and we had an hour and a half until they played again. Many of the girls were hungry and we were trying to figure out how to get some nourishment into them. Our family had bought some Subway sandwiches before we arrived that morning just so we would be sure that our kids wouldn’t be starving. As I reached into our bag to pull out my Veggie Delight, I knew there was a girl on the team who is a vegetarian. I have a really tough time with this girl – her attitude, how she talks to the other girls – but I knew what the Lord wanted me to do.
I asked her if she wanted half of my sandwich, to which she gratefully smiled and said yes. I unwrapped that sub sandwich and as I broke it in two I swear I could hear the words, “______, this is Christ’s body given for you.” I am pretty sure she didn’t hear it, but I did. And that act of sharing my Subway sandwich became an act of worship. I wanted God to know that I choose the way of the communion table – to give up my life for the sake of another. And I wanted the world to know just of little of what God tastes like.