I am not a tidy Christian.
My faith is tried and tested, battered and bruised…a totter of belief dogged by doubt.
There have been seasons I’ve flirted with walking away from it all (as if I could), thinking it a better way to raise my babies and order our family, but toying with dangerous thoughts and heretical ideas. And yet…
When I’ve slogged through those valleys of shadows and death, God has refused to leave me.
When, with open hand, I’ve hung to gossamer thread, it has been he who has gripped my wrist tight, ignoring my mulish, wayward heart. When I’ve been faithless, he’s been faithful. To me...to me!
God’s long-suffering is incredible, incomprehensible, undeserved. His grace toward me is unfathomable, exquisite, blessed miracle.
But isn’t it that way for all of us; what he’s done for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus? His is a royal bloodline which, as his heir, makes me a daughter of a King. A princess! And isn’t that the longing of every little girl–to be known and loved and seen as beautiful and special?
I’m walking in a season of abundance right now, where I sense and see God’s favor and goodness. Hindsight is revealing his redemptive purpose in so many things, rendering me speechless save to express my gratitude for his kindness and generosity, tenderness and love. I can barely stand it, really, receiving it all as gift, and not wanting to take one thing for granted.
I’m not thrashing quite so hard, but still…sometimes…my ragamuffin ways surface:
I’m not a fan of mealtime blessings.
Specifically, I’m not a fan of mealtime blessings when they’re said to meet a “requirement” of religiosity, to bear “evidence” of salvation, or as Tim Chester phrases it in A Meal with Jesus, they’ve become “a stale habit.” It bothers me when I’m with a group of friends in a restaurant and it feels like we “have” to pray because we’re believers and it’s what we’re supposed to do. Mark 7:13 often rings in my ears, that all we’re doing is following a tradition of man and thus invalidating the word of God; when saying a prayer feels performance driven, not for the glory of God.
Am I the only one?
I remember one friend’s family who gave thanks this way: to raise a glass and offer a toast of sorts: “To the King!” they’d agree, and they sincerely meant it as an expression of love and gratitude for their meal’s provision. My sister has sometimes offered a prayer around her table by raising her filled plate and inviting us to join her, then declaring our collective thanks for the meal and God’s blessings.
I love these earnest prayers.
Praising God for his provision and blessing before a meal becomes a communal celebration when we pray with thankful hearts.
There’s a huge difference between saying a blessing because it’s expected and sincerely offering thanks.
Chester reminds us what we’re expressing when we say grace:
- Our daily dependence on God as creatures and sinners.
- Our dependence on others as we give thanks for those who grew, processed, bough, and cooked our food.
- The goodness of food, thereby transforming our food from fuel to a gift to be relished.
- Our gratitude to God thereby reorienting ourselves away from self and back to God.
- Our gratitude for community as we ask God’s lesson our fellowship over the meal.
(A Meal With Jesus, p. 73.)
As opposed to rote recitation or religious obligation, offering grace is a simple means of celebrating who we are and Whose we are. As followers of Jesus, we’re to follow his lead and walk in his way. He modeled a mealtime blessing (as did Paul), and I’m walking on thin ice when I get all judgy about how it’s done. It’s the kind of thing that makes me ragamuffiny.
Jesus tells us to come as children. I’d do well to keep that in mind… .
God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands we all are fed.
Give us, Lord, our daily bread.