I meticulously set the table for seven. I inserted the leaf in the old table, so there’d be enough room for all of the guests. I carefully arranged the napkins on my favorite table cloth. I dressed the table with china and silver and dessert plates.
Everything matched or didn’t match in the most perfect way, and with the candles lit it was a glorious sight. I was prepared for a Thanksgiving feast of perfection. And then suddenly I heard…
“Mom, what are you doing? There aren’t seven people coming for Thanksgiving and you aren’t even making a turkey,” my sassy child declared. I stopped in my tracks as if the sound engineer of my daily life played a screeching record sound byte.
She was right. There’d just be four of us and it wouldn’t even be on Thanksgiving day, but I’ve always done this. I set the table for whomever is supposed to be here. I usually don’t leave it very long… but while all of those places are set, I take a little time to imagine.
I spend a little time with my Father over each of those place settings. I take a little time to remember the good and forgive the bad. The place settings become an invitation for grace for whatever season is my current middle place.
Sometimes it’s a prayer that a brother’s journey would lead him back to the table next year. I sit and laugh remembering the fun memories of last year and the year before.This season I'm going to choose hope! Because this life is just a sliver of eternity.Click To Tweet
Or for a niece or nephew that needs to straighten out his life. I think about the good that God planted in his life as a child.
Occasionally I even pray and thank God as I recount the blessings received from a family member that I miss and wished was still around. I grieve a little, while letting the joy of remembrance heal those wounds.
But equally as often, there is simply nothing to recount…
Perhaps it’s a new family member that won’t accept your hospitality and grace.
Or an in law with whom you don’t see eye to eye.
Or a step child that you’ve never had the privilege of getting to know.
Or a sibling that has been out of your life for too long to remember.
This is where recounting can turn to hope. The beautiful thing about hope is that the unseen and unknown is required. So this is where God makes the truly impossible… possible.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Romans 8:24-25 NIV
You see, our faith and salvation is built around hope. The mystery of God’s Kingdom is so beautiful and so complex. And as we immerse ourselves in God’s word our eyes are opened to the unseen and we can begin to view the bigger picture.
This is also, however, where we have a choice. We can choose to laugh at the crazy lady that just set too many place settings. We can choose to not believe in the impossible. We can choose to be complacent and accept the fact that “it is what it is.”
Or we can choose hope. We can let the beautiful imagination, with which God blessed us, run wild with hope and ideas. We can boldly pray the impossible.
We can see this season as what it is… a tiny sliver of our eternal life.
This season I’m going to choose hope. And I’m not going to cry over those empty place settings. No siree, I won’t! I’m going to see the entire table as a picture of hope…. So that one day I can recount God’s goodness in each of those people’s lives.
And even if they never make it to my table, at least I’ve offered them a little grace in the journey.