Starving, Next to the Feast Table

9:06 AMHeather

I'm not really sure why it took me so long.  I can't account for why I've spent most of my faith journey, starving on the floor, eating the crumbs and leftovers of works and legalism and a self-defined, limited Jesus.  All the while, a feast of grace has been served up next to me for all these years.  But, instead of joining at the banquet table, I've resigned myself to languishing in so many misconceptions and misunderstandings of who God is and what He wants from me.

I've heard my stomach growl, hungry for love and affirmation and validation.  I've felt the pangs of want.  I've lived out a faith marked by defining God in the box of my human relationships and understandings.  A religion.  Rules.  Tradition.  Legalism.  Starving for more.  But, resigning myself to my position.

While next to me, an elaborate banquet table--a feast of grace--has been served up with generosity.   I think at times, I've caught a whiff of the smell of grace.  Even thought I had put it on my own plate.  But, I'm coming to see that I've only allowed myself a little taste of it, a sample of it, like you enjoy at Sam's Club on a Saturday morning.  It tastes great, but it's just a tiny amount in a little plastic cup.  And that's all you get.  It leaves you wanting more.  But you have to do something about it to get more.  You have to buy it.  Pay the price to gain it.

The price to pay is allowing your limited perspective and consumerism faith and duty based religion to die.  To trade them in for the sake of gaining the grace.  To take that leap from the ledge of how most human relationships work and the yoke of religious burden into the deep ocean of grace.  Trusting that He really does have grace and love whose depths you can never fully explore.  And it is enough. It changes everything.

To trade in the task list of religion for the sacred discipline of learning to sit at Jesus' feet.  Through prayer and time in His word. To leave the activity of the kitchen and the preparation like Martha in Luke 10 and to instead quiet yourself to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to the Savior like Martha's sister Mary.  To choose the "only thing that is needed," according to Luke 10:42.  To choose the better thing of feasting on God's grace and exploring His love rather than seeking to earn His favor through religious rituals.  

Because that type of striving leaves you starving, next to a decadent banquet table.  

In this incredible journey to realize that God loves me like no other, to really seek to wrap my brain around that fact, I've come to realize that I've missed so much.  I've prayed more than once, asking God why it took me so long to see the chains of religious striving for what they were and to be freed to enjoy a grace based relationship.   

I don't know why it took me so long.  I think, as I've said, that I've had snippets or samples of grace.  I've known God as my Heavenly Father, my Sustainer, my Provider, my Refuge, my Hope.  But, I'm just getting to know Him as the source of a grace that changes everything.  That one way love that draws me to repentance, that stirs me to step into the unknown, and that feeds my soul as never before.

Today, in John 20, God revealed another aspect of this journey to embrace and know His love and His grace.  You see, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb on that first Easter Sunday.  She found the stone rolled away, the body gone.  She ran to tell both Peter and "the disciple whom Jesus loved."  

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  
John 20:4

Here's the thing.  When we can truly find our identity as the One Whom Jesus Loved, then it can spur us to outrun those around us to dare to enter the empty tomb.  To run into the unknown.  To face fears and death and anxiety.  When we really see ourselves as the One Whom Jesus Loved, it leaves no room for fear, anxiety or doubt.  Instead, it spurs us to run.  And not just to run our race, but to outrun the pace.  Grasping and owning this identity as the One Whom Jesus loved equips us to walk into the dark caves of discovery.  

Oh, that we might all leave the crumbs of empty religion behind.  And join the feast of grace that will satisfy us as never before.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.
Psalm 34:8 (The Message) 

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