The used up table

dining room table

I’ve been shopping for a new dining room table to replace the old table that’s been a steady fixture in our home for the last 20 years.  Shopping for furniture is stressful enough by itself, but I was not prepared for the emotional weight of it as well.

I looked at my old table with its scratches and worn chairs.  It needed to be replaced with something new and refreshing, but each time I tried to pick out a new table I hesitated with just a bit of melancholy.  I’ve served many meals around that table.  There have been Thanksgiving celebrations, birthday parties, moments of joy and even a few tears.  I remember a picture taken of me holding my two-day old baby son while sitting at that table.  Oh how I wish I could sit there now and have a nice talk with that young mom, and perhaps give her a little hug.  Throughout the years that followed, my son and I spent many evenings reviewing homework and studying for tests around that table.  I especially remember the pains of Algebra and Chemistry during the high school years.  We even had a large hole in the dining room wall from the constant banging of my son’s chair hitting against the wall in frustration.  That hole stayed there for over a year.  But he made it!  All of those scrapes and scratches and spots on the chairs are the well-earned medals of achievement of growing up.  My son is now in college and on his way to finding his own place in life; a path truly designed by the hand of God.

Now as I stroll through the furniture stores, all the new tables just look like cheap impostors to our home.  They don’t show the love from all the years gone by.  Our dining room table has always been cluttered with computers and books and printers for homework and other work.  We rarely used it for fine china and formal dining.  Yet time does not stop for any of us, no matter what our well-intentioned wishes may be.  We should happily cherish all those fond memories from the past, but also look forward to the future.  God has plans for us in every phase of our life.  Unlike my old used up table, we are not used up in God’s eyes.  He does not see our scratches and bumps, but only our potential.

After much deliberation and thought, I finally decided to go with a custom designed table and chairs where I can pick out every detail of the new table including the color, style, wood and shape.  Nothing ordinary will do.  I want something that will fit into our lives alongside the family photos and mementos, but also something strong and sturdy designed to carry us forward through the next 20 years with a fresh, bold outlook on the future.  It’s the same way in which God designs our lives too.

baby at table

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  I Timothy 6:6
feet with waves cropped

He’s somebody’s son

Stories are powerful.  People relate to them easily.  I have found that people remember stories far more than just stating a bunch of facts.  Jesus used this same method, often speaking in parables to the people of his time.  It was about something real in their life.  This is who Jesus was and is.  He cared about people’s needs.  He responded first to their basic human needs before reaching out to their hearts.  Jesus understood.  Even today, it is still the same.

The following story is not a particularly happy story of miracles or hope, but it is that of the basic human need inside all of us.  One may think this could never happen to me, and I hope it never does, but we are all much closer than we think.  One wrong turn, one bad decision in our youth, a childhood beyond our control, could all take us there, could all be us…

I have been traveling the same path for years now, driving south on the interstate into the city, everyday from 9 to 5.  It can be monotonous – the same direction, the same lanes on the highway, the same billboards.  Except for a new building here or there, not much changes in my one-hour commute.  But one day on my regular early-morning drive, I saw something that stood out from the ordinary.  I don’t know his name but he started showing up at the corner of an intersection about five or six years ago.  What made him different from the other homeless people I have seen was his youth.  He looked to be in his early twenties – so young – and if cleaned up a little, could have been quite handsome.  He had a strong, angular face and piercing eyes, and his body appeared strong but thin.  I was driving through the college part of town when I first saw him, and wondered if he had once been a student there and perhaps had lost his way in the world.  Surely someone cares about this young, handsome man, I thought with a whisper of a prayer.

As time went by, I continued to see him every few weeks and always around the same place.  Sometimes he would look happy, almost in a childlike way, and other times he looked like he was barely hanging on.  Over time, I could see the physical deterioration in his face, weathered and beaten beyond his young years, yet a shallow image of his youth was still there.  It tugged on my heart, and I began saying a little prayer for him each time I saw him.  I would search for him on my way home to see if he was ok, just as I would have done for my own son.  Sometimes it would be months in between these visits.  Then he would appear again, and I was never quite sure if I should be relieved at seeing him.  It meant he was still alive, but it also meant he was not being helped.  As a female I knew it was not a good idea for me to get out of my car and help him, so I continued to pray that God would send someone.  After all, he was somebody’s son.  No matter what had happened in his life, there was a moment in time when he came into this world with a mom, bringing all the hope and promise of a new life.  He was once a child like you and I were.

I saw him again the other day after a long lapse.  My commute had changed and I no longer got the chance to check on him as often.  He looks older now, but he still hangs around the same place.  Curiously, there are no homeless shelters in the area where he chooses to walk around, and I have never seen him ask for handouts or carry any bags with him.  Today, I pray that God sends a special angel to comfort him, whatever he may need.  Everybody should have at least one person praying for them.  We are all somebody’s son or daughter.

On this cold and rainy morning, I am grateful for my warm, comfortable home.  I have enough food to eat, my family is safe, and my health is well.  I have no want for anything more.  The only thing that would fill my soul more completely would be to help others to have these very same things.

young person

 little feet