Today, as I sit at my table, I am flooded with memories; pictures in my mind of family gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and pretty much any event in our lives that was noteworthy. My mother, while not a “fancy” cook (to use her words), was a domestic queen of five children. My father, Mr. Social, was always inviting pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and just plain folk to drop in for lunch or dinner. There were no restaurants for 45 miles. No grocery stores. My resourceful mother would open the freezer and deftly pull out something amazing, and then command me to go to the canning room to grab whatever vegetable or fruit was to go on the table that day. She always had fresh baked bread and some type of dessert at the ready. Yes, the real Proverbs 31 woman! But she wasn’t one of those “fancy” cooks, haha.
It always thrilled me when company came! It was like an adventure to walk into the dining room to see and smell this colorful display of bounty. There were always new recipes and new attempts at fixing an old standby in a different way.
At that table, I heard stories of God’s provision in difficult days and God’s love for our family. How a wandering brother would be brought back one day into not just our family, but also God’s family (yes it happened). How we could count on God every day of our lives. That prayer mattered, even though we might not like the answer. How one day, it would be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Heaven was very real, because it just was. It was there in the Bible, and we believed in the Bible, all of it.
June 17th of this year, as our family sat at that table. Our eyes filled with tears as we laughed and cried together...our mother was missing. Earlier that day, after a very brief illness, she lay in her bed, her breath became shallow but she somehow glowed. Her four remaining kids sang her favorite hymns, held her hands and prayed for her... and us. You see she was 101 years young and the center of our gatherings. She was our “life happens around the table”. After a couple of days of semi-consciousness, her eyes opened wide and she looked straight towards the ceiling with the face of a young woman. The presence of God was so strong that I fully expected to see the angels coming through the ceiling to walk her home! As she took her last breath, Pandora randomly started playing, “It Is Well With My Soul.” It was. Everything at the table was true. I knew it before, but I have experienced it now in a way that I will never forget.
Later, as we sat at the table, missing my mother, we shared a lifetime of memories, looked at pictures, and loving gratitude broke out all over the place. Even on our faces! That table is still a place of gathering, truth, sharing, hope and love.
So, this is where I pick up today. As I sit here and write of God’s goodness and generosity to our family, I am prompted to do a self-check. Is there truth at my table? Am I generous with what I have? What will my children value and know as truth when I am gone? Who will get “the” table? Yes, I have that table. It’s old, worn, banged up and tired looking but it’s like an old friend. I pray every day that I am worthy to sit at this table where so much life happens.