My challenging task this summer is to bring my book, "I Choose to Forgive" up-to-date and expand it with other materials. In attempting to do this, I'm re-visiting my journals and the voluminous correspondence between myself and the man who murdered our son. Grief, pain and the memories of our loss threaten to overwhelm me at times. But, there is also the amazement of God's grace, healing and forgiveness that are so abundant. My relationship with God and with the man (now a brother-in-Christ) who killed Tim has deepened and become so sweet to recall.
A key part of the journey was the vision I experience while singing in church one day about "once enemies, now seated as His table". In that changing kaleidoscope of images, was the crowning vision of our dining room table, with our children and grandchildren sitting around it, plus the man who killed Tim and his children were sitting with us. At the head of the table was Christ. So powerful!
This image from God eventually led us to work towards the release of this man from prison and to our precious meeting with him this spring. I believe God is assuring me that not only will this "enemy" be with us at His table, but that God is working in the lives of his children to bring them to the table as well.
I was reminded of this recently as I engaged in worship at the "Ancient-Future Faith Convocation" in Jacksonville, FL. As part of the liturgy of worship, we sang a song by an 18th Century hymnologist, Isaac Watts. The final stanza brought tears of joy as we sang,
The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days; O may Thy house be my abode, and all my work be praise. There would I find settled rest, while others go and come; No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.
Yes, we who once were enemies of God, are invited to sit as his heavenly table. But it is even better than that, we're invited, not as strangers or guests, but like a child at home. Amazing.
There is no greater joy in my life than to have my children and grandchildren enjoying a meal around our table. It boggles my mind what the celebration will be like when we are in the presence of our Heavenly Father!
The interesting thing is that God wants to live in this reality NOW, not only in eternity. We are ever in His presence. THAT is reality--far more than the brokenness and we see all around us. Do I celebrate, a precursor of that heavenly table, being with other "children of God" as I should? Do I delight in the provisions of God as He serves us at His table?
Oh, may I live in this glorious reality of being God's child!