I entered my happy place as I sat down in my favorite restaurant where great writing experiences happen. With laptop open, notebooks at the ready, pens displayed and earphones in place, I’m set to work.
For some reason I find myself playing David Nevue’s music at a lower volume than usual. Once I get started I can hear a conversation occurring just a couple tables away.
“…the goodness of God,” I hear from woman as she speaks to another sitting just across from her. Compulsively, I turn my head in a moment of awkwardness and realize the storyteller catches me doing so.
Embarrassed, I turn away quickly while longing to look her straight on and let her know, “You go girl!” I want to tell her I’m praying at this very moment, that God would use her to speak His message in a powerful way. It’s clear the other woman is intrigued. She seems inquisitive and longing for answers. Maybe she’s looking for hope like so many of us are, and here she sits as a captive audience for the woman who shares of beauty and of Christ.
I catch tidbits here and there, trying to not pay too much attention but compelled to hear words which breathe grace. Maybe they’ll speak life to me as well, I think. The storyteller tells how God has shown himself real, and good, and true through the testimony of her life experiences. The other woman continues to listen. Occasionally, she asks a question. Conversation builds connection between the two. I try to disengage from what’s happening so close to me while my heart feels a fullness, because I know.
The Spirit of God is present. Alive. Active. Powerful. It’s the goodness of God displayed at the table.
An hour later I notice a gentlemen, who’d been sitting in my favorite corner spot. He packs his bags and prepares to leave. I ask this stranger if he’d mind me moving my entourage of writing supplies to this spot. He smiles and encourages me to do so. I notice his Bible sitting on the table. A stack of business books shoved in his bag and perhaps this one has a special place because it waits to be last.
“I take it you’re a believer,” I say. He smiles and responds, “Yes! You are too?” I nod and we begin our own conversation as he finishes loading up.
He asks about my writing. We share the importance of caring for orphans because I brought up fostering and he says he wants to adopt someday. He talks business and we both share enthusiasm for pursuing Christ in our work and daily living. In a matter of ten minutes I’ve been encouraged and inspired through a brief encounter with a brother in Christ. I was on the giving and receiving end of life giving connection, because of a table.
I smile at the goodness of God who gives the gift of each other. For how much he values connection and community.
It occurs to me how often I’ve sat at a public table and noticed the movement of God around me. I’ve watched individuals in coffee shops, and restaurants, and fast food locations with Bibles in hand. I’ve observed woman talking to woman, and man talking to man, and small groups all gathered for the sake of sharing Christ in some way.
I’ve seen smiles shared and tears met with compassion. I’ve witnessed the power of discipleship, evangelism and relational care happen all around me. When I take a moment to notice, it’s heavily impressed upon my heart to also take time for giving God thanks and praise.
We never know what God might do through our willingness to engage in the lives of others, even for a brief moment. I’m reminded of the powerful God I serve whose voice will not be silenced. Not when evil murders innocents. Not when tragedy strikes and it seems death has won. Not when cruelty bears down hard on the voice of another through abuse, control and manipulation. Not when physical ailments and circumstances threaten to shut us down.
No matter what, God is good.
Even as I treasure these living giving moments, I also pray for the tragedy of a family impacted by suicide and others experiencing excruciating pain for a number of reasons. It’s all happening around me. Pain and joy. Connection and brokenness.
And still, it’s her words which stand out to me today, “…the goodness of God.”
Regardless of our circumstances, regardless of what we see and notice, our God is always good. I think of tables across the world which become a meeting place for the glory of God and His gifts of grace. I think of God’s goodness experienced through presence and community.
Everywhere we go, the table gives us the opportunity to share the goodness of God.