Starving at the Table
Running along the beach in summer, feeling the wind on my face as I try to break the car speed limit on a bike, hiking the dunes of Michigan or the mountains on the West Coast, these are my ideas of "working out."
Sweeting it out on a treadmill in winter is not exactly on my list of loves. (One reason I'm pumped it's spring now!)
But regardless of where my loves cross the line into dislike or on occasion, disdain, I workout because it's healthy for my body and makes me feel good. (If you haven't heard of endorphins yet, go read a science book and your life will be changed!)
After I work out I need to fill the deficits in my body: I get fluid back on my inside to compensate for what's now on my outside (gross, right?), and maybe I'll get some protein in my system. Whatever filling the deficit looks like, eventually I might wind up at the table sweating, eating, and drinking.
Average info, right?
Yes. Until today I was reminded I actually have two tables of food to choose from, and I'm not talking about the fruit table versus the dessert table. (Although chocolate flourless cake is my new go-to!)
See, my goal when working out is most notably to force my body into what feels like a point of exhaustion, so in the long run (haha see what I did there), it's actually more healthy and ready to take on whatever I need to do with my life. At the end my body is tired.
Sometimes I'm even shaking and know I need to go the table and get filled up again.
Then the choice comes between those two tables: physically I can choose healthy food that will keep me full in the long run, or unhealthy food that will give me a rush and feel great in the moment, but down the road will leave me feeling and looking very unhealthy.
Paul Tripp says, "The important thing to know is that there are only two banquet tables from which you can eat: the costly, unsatisfying table of the physical world or the soul-satisfying table of the Lord of abundant mercy and grace."
Looks like there are two other tables then, ones that don't necessarily deal with food, but with our goals in life. We all have goals. Maybe to graduate, to marry, to lose ___lbs, to gain ___lbs in muscle, to get on that team or wear that brand or have well-behaved kids. Whatever it is, we work toward the goal.
We also all have deficits.
Not from working out, but because none of us were born whole.
Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the "God-shaped hole," however cliche and true that statement is.
But all of us were born with desires. I might have named some of yours above. Or maybe not. We're all unique in what we want. But to fulfill those desires we pick a table.
We've all seen it. The celebrity that goes to the physical table of the world, eats his or her fill, and then feels the wrenching sickness that follows. They're full of the world but somehow still not satisfied.
We've also all seen or heard of those who go to the banquet table of mercy and grace.
They choose the healthy table, the one that is maybe hard to get used to. The "healthy" food isn't very desirable at first. Spending time with others who follow Jesus is a chore and reading that book from God makes zero sense. But eventually as they stay on the diet, they change from weak and sickly to strong and healthy.
Suddenly they're the ones changing the world, rather than being changed by it.
It's an incredible sight to see!
We all have an idea on how we can best get filled up.
For some of us it takes trying the first table:
- filing our lives with material things
- the latest gossip of Hollywood
- the pursuit of pleasure
And don't get me wrong here! Pleasure is AWESOME. A gift from God. But when we elevate it above God that's when things go down -- and quick. Everything in moderation, right? Even flourless cake...as much as I hate to admit it.
Some of us already found the first table never satisfies.
So we go to the second table:
- we find grace never runs out
- mercy is the main course
- and even the smallest portion fills us
The tricky thing is, both tables take some time to figure out.
Some of us spend so long on the first table we die still trying to get filled.
We never taste the satisfaction of grace or the life-changing hope that comes from knowing we'll live forever loved in the best way possible.
Perhaps surprisingly then, those of us at the second table are always going back to the first.
Not to eat -- we go back to share. A tidbit, just enough that maybe table guests will come to the banquet before the doors close.
Because of this we live always inviting.
And echoing the words of our Creator and Lover we say:
"Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Hoping that even one table guest will respond:
"Give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty."
We're all sitting at a table. Some of us starving, some of us filled.
How could the filled not offer food to the starving?
I wish I could give people an IV of grace. But that takes the choice out of it, and I'm not the Great Physician anyway. The starving have to choose they want life. I can bring them to the table over and over, but until they pick up the fork they're still starving.