On Monday night, a crew of wonderful women landed at my house for chili and chowder–or chowdah if you’re from around here. Our last pre-COVID gathering had been in February, and while we’ve been worshiping weekly in our lawn chairs under God’s blue sky, I was beginning to miss our closer sharing of the truth and the kind of conversations that spring up among friends who know each other well but still manage to love and accept each other.
Last week, I decided it was time to stop wishing and to start inviting. My dining room is spacious enough to accommodate our small group, and we would be careful to keep our distance. I began jotting a menu and making plans.
That sense of longing, the feeling of lack, moved me toward action. I’m learning (slowly) that listening to the lack is much more productive than trying to bypass it or pretending it doesn’t exist.
When we sing the old hymn lyrics in which Jesus “emptied himself of all but love,” it’s easy to forget that it was a true emptying, verified by Scripture and borne out in dread and bloody sweat. When God the Son emptied himself of his privileges, his physical death became possible, with the end result of true life for you and me and the glorious filling that happened when God “highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name.”
But back to the task at hand: Paying attention to my need for connection led to it’s fulfillment.
How does one make that move from the awareness of a need to its fulfillment? Well, for me it was a matter of deciding that the trouble and the work and the risk of inviting were absolutely worth it.Tweet
Whenever I fling open my door (after having cleaned off the St. Bernard slobber), I end up grateful and glad I did it. My friend Sue Donaldson has said this so well:
We invite someone to our table so that they find out God’s invited them, too. No better way to live. No better reason to change the sheets one more time or put another burger on the grill. All for heaven’s sake.”
What’s the gnawing emptiness that’s got your attention today? Is there a broken relationship, a persistent loneliness, a need for an understanding ear or a word of encouragement? Learn to linger with what provokes you–and then ask yourself what’s behind the feeling. What is standing in the way of your going first to address the need?
Whether we are offering hospitality around our table or extending the welcome of forgiveness in a relationship that needs repair, believers have been called by God to the business of filling and reconciling. Decide today that you will listen to the lack that’s calling your name and then create the space of welcome, acceptance, or reconciliation that you long for.
Under the mercy,
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