I met my friend, Aly (online) when I came across the story of her table. Every table has a story, you know (if tables could talk!) We discovered a kindred spirit of tables and food and inviting others in.
I love tables (and what’s on them) and mostly who’s around them. Someday we hope to be at one another’s. Check out her heart for hospitality – so open and lovely. Her new table began with a door. What’s not to like? And she’s married to a real contractor husband. I imagine there’s plaid there somewhere.
Now, Aly ~
Before my first IF:Table, before we gathered to share a meal and our hearts, before we talked about big and small ways to bring Jesus to our city, there was a door……
This isn’t going like I had planned. I kept my pouty lip securely tucked in and tried not to let my eyes show what my heart felt.
I had asked for a table. An altar of sorts, to gather and feed. To be in communion with God and the hearts that walk into our lives and meet us where we are.
But apparently it’s not that easy to just “build a table.” For little or no money. And love it.
My PLAN was to build a table out of recycled pallets. If you know me on social media, I am all about recycling and reusing. We have become kind of allergic to buying new.
I executed my part of the operation by securing pallets that Whole Foods was happy to give me for free. We brought them home and I. Was. So. Excited.
This is already becoming a long story but, I will never forget the day God orchestrated for table building. My contractor woke up on his first day off in a month and declared his service to me and our table. Sister, please. Unsolicited acts of love like this go down in history books.
The following is a list of lessons I learned during the making of the open door table. During every step of this process, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering, “Tuck this lesson into your heart. It’s a reminder of how to approach your life.”
I can’t imagine keeping these life lessons to myself and I am betting you are dealing with at least one of these in your own life today. Somehow, I suspect I will be re-learning a few of these for the rest of my life.
There will be work. I had no idea how much effort is involved in making a flat surface with legs. There are so many steps that must be done, in order. I had to trust the guy who had been here before to guide me through the process. What makes me think I can glide through life effortlessly and get it all right the first time? We need our guide, our God, to lead us through where he has already been. And ladybird, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves.
There will be provision. God provides the raw materials, you have to do the work. We made the open door table for exactly zero dollars. Tabletop, legs, supports, stain and varnish were already in our possession. God had already placed them here previously so they would be available when we were ready. Okay, okay, this minimalist can admit that it occasionally comes in handy to be married to a pack rat. Though, I am not entirely sure the other 97% of the time makes up for the 3%… but that’s another post.
There will be waiting. I have already made it clear that there is no instant gratification when asking for something of value. You don’t just build a table and sit down to eat an hour later. We waited for the right time. We waited 24 hours between coats of stain and varnish. And I mean three coats of varnish. There is meaning in the waiting. God is preparing our hearts in the waiting.
It may look disappointing during the process. Don’t judge a work in progress. There were moments when I knew this table was going to be ugly. At one point I even wished we hadn’t started it at all. Save that opinion until you and God are finished with the work. This goes for our own lives, and the unfinished stories of others.
It probably won’t look like you imagined. There will be pieces of the original dream, but it will look different. As a whole it will be so much more fantastic than you could have thought to ask. Those pallets we brought home were in rough shape. That’s when I got discouraged. But God knew all along that there was an old wooden door in the garage that my contractor had been using as a work bench. He suggested we take a look and when I laid eyes on it I almost jumped for joy. And we were still able to use some of the pallet supports for the legs.
Note: I love, love, love the symbolism of our table being fashioned out of an old door. It is not lost on us as we open our doors and our lives to those who come and leave with full bellies and fuller hearts.
It means so much more than if God just handed me what I wanted. This table is the first thing my husband and I (and God) created together. The secondhand, mix & match chairs? We have memories of time spent together, hunting for them at garage sales and online. It is worth more than the most expensive dining table imported from Italy.
It will come with responsibility. Every dream God shapes from our prayers has one ultimate goal. To bring Jesus to the world one person at a time. It comes with the understanding that we will use our stories to show others they can have the same. You can bet we will be gathering people around our table to love them and laugh with them and cry with them and dream big, scary dreams with them and pray with them.
And you can bet Jesus will have a reserved seat.
I love Aly’s life-lessons – did you see? Can you relate to any or all? She prayed. God answered; but not how she planned. (Now can you relate?) She learned that God’s answers to our prayers may include:
Creativity (she didn’t use that word, but that’s how our Creator-God likes to work–out of the box with surprises and joy)
What are you asking God for this week? Will you share with me how He’s providing – even while you wait, even if disappointed, as you see His creative re-planning of your plans?
As I wait, I learn that I’m more precious to God than my precious plans. And what a great lesson here: It means so much more than if God just handed me what I wanted.
I love Aly’s call to responsible living – whatever we pray for, however He answers – we’re called to answer His call on our lives: invite the world to Jesus. Show another His welcoming heart. You may even get a new table. A door for another to know God. Sounds like a job well done and life worth living. Thanks, Aly. Blessings on you and your table.
Aly Chase is living out of gratitude for her salvation.
She retired from public school teaching, after 16 years, to move onto her next grand adventure. A Compassion International advocate and volunteer coordinator, Aly is passionate about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. She finds balance between the daily grind and the extraordinarily ordinary moments that come with an invitation to “come and eat”. Founder of onedaylighter.com, Compassion Volunteer Coordinatior, Moderator: instagram.com/brokenmadebeautiful.