When the Lord called us to go overseas, there were few things I struggled getting rid of. But the table was one of them. It seemed like such a huge, once-in-a-lifetime gift, so I really didn't want to get rid of it. I had many memories around that table. Serving people. Eating good food. Scaring our cats away from it. Teaching Elin not to climb on it. So when my in-laws moved to Georgia and wanted to use our table in their new house, I was so excited! It was such a win-win for everyone!
So last Spring it was time for my in-laws to get their own dream table: a beautiful Amish-made set that my mother-in-law has wanted for so long. She has taught me so much about hospitality, so I'm overjoyed for her that she finally was able to purchase her dream table! But simultaneously I painful-grieved my table. In the midst of the tumultuous Pandemic Life, I also lost my table. It was one of my last major material possessions, and I knew that I would probably never be able to afford a table of that magnitude again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime gift. But with no other choice, I sold my table and cried with my Father over what felt like just another loss that comes with this painful life. But even then, the Lord was gentle with me, and I sensed His love as I asked Him to help me be willing to get rid of everything for the sake of His Kingdom.
In January we began looking for housing for our family. The process was long and overwhelming and frustrating. We were rejected from so many rentals for various reasons. We became very aware of the tremendous uphill climb people in poverty face everyday. We understood firsthand how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is totally true.
Finally the Lord provided us a home to buy and call our own, for however long He wants to keep us here. But then I had a 3/2 ranch with nothing but bunk beds for furniture. Being a male minimalist, I knew Derek was struggling to empathize with my maternal need to create a cozy home instead of just a temporary dwelling. And I was struggling with guilt for even wanting those material possessions; hadn't I already given all of that up? But I longed for it. Especially for my children. And I started grieving - probably really for the first time - the home we had sold to go overseas. The beautiful home right next to the park, with wonderful neighbors, a community swimming pool, four upstairs bedrooms, and rooms big enough to easily house my 12-seater dining room table. It was as if I was just now truly counting the costs of this life the Lord has called us to. I grieved my things. And then grieved that I even had to grieve it, since I very badly want to be content without all those things.
As we were waiting for our house to close, some very dear friends from our church heard my heart's cry. They all banded together and came along side of me to help me create a home. We have been totally gifted living room furniture, a kitchen table, mattresses, lamps... all the things to make a nice home. My friend Abby even built by hand the perfect bench for my entryway that I had wanted so much! I have been so loved by my people. But we didn't have a table, and so I just planned to turn our dining room area into a play area. But then...
One day my mother-in-law gets a text from someone at her church who also knows us. She asked if we needed a dining room table. Initially I wanted to say no because I already had plans for the play area. But then I found out the table was from a retired couple who downsized and loved their table, but it just wouldn't fit in their smaller living space. It was a brown, wooden 12-seater table, with two leaves... it was almost exactly what I had "given up" years before. As I heard the description, I kept hearing my own words from before: "I will never get another table like this in my life." And then I heard these words:
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
"Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life... look at the bird of the air... your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?...Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow... But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown in the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?... your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Receiving my new table is a much bigger luxury than the basic food and clothing needs about which Jesus is speaking in the Sermon on the Mount. And I certainly don't want to portray any undertones of a Prosperity Gospel, a teaching that claims that the Lord will reward you with earthly possessions and health if you serve Him greatly. But receiving these material blessings was like getting a tangible hug from my God. I don't deserve these things. These things aren't promised to me. They are not rewards for my service to God. They are simply abundant, gracious gifts from a Father who delights in His children.
I still want to learn even more contentment in this life without the material possessions. I want to be willing to give up everything to follow His leading. I want to be ok if I'm homeless, or living in perpetual transition, or experiencing health trials, or struggling on a daily basis with the challenges of parenting. I'm not totally there yet, but the Lord is gently guiding me. Holding my hand as He securely takes me along His path, showing me the many ways He will always love and take care of me along the way. And it is that love and faithfulness that is an greater blessing than my new table.