We recall Jesus saying saying “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). At the last supper, Jesus tells his disciples to “eat this bread and drink the cup” (1 Cor. 11:26). In scripture eating and drinking call us to the table where there is good food ready for us to enjoy in good company. So how does one come to the table? I believe that coming to the table of the Lord is a process of becoming conscious, of coming to know ourselves as we are known.
A few years ago through prayer, I had a sense that I was standing at a sideboard. Over time, I became aware that there was a table in this room and in fact, there was an empty place at the table for me. Since that time, I have been practicing coming to the table of the Lord. This has required me to accurately describe what is on my plate. Imagine the plate is a metaphor for the realities of my life experience found in my relationships. I could not actually “eat” what was given to me, until I named it. I noticed there were things that had been sitting on that plate for a long time, waiting to be named. Once named, it was as if the Risen Lord transformed the contents of my plate into something edible. The work I have done to name and accept the rough contours in my life has bonded me to the Risen Lord and to those in the body of Christ on the earth today.
At first it was very difficult work. Now, there are still times I cannot understand why something needs to be on my plate, but I have become more aware deep within that I am well fed. If our stories are found on our plates, what is on your plate?
During a recent workshop I attended, our facilitator asked the group if three or four of us would share a time of great darkness in our lives and explain how our experience of that dark night or impasse changed our understanding of God. A few of us did, and afterwards one man observed that by hearing the stories he believed that the group had a more profound experience of God. The telling of a few sad tales, did not disturb our faith, rather it connected us to one another more deeply.
One of the blocks I believe that often face us, as we even unconsciously begin to consider changing our patterns of relationship through forgiving is the sense that “it is too late for us.” But I challenge that one-dimensional thinking. What if bringing this part of broken creation to the cross is your earthly task? What if bringing your experience of pain is the primary action God desires of you?
Of what value can my broken heart be to God? I have sometimes likened my experiences with sin and its hurtful patterns in families as bits of a burst balloon. I have never met anyone who wanted that garbage. But now I know that God does not judge my damaged moments as garbage. These are the bits of life that God uses to create something beautiful. So I have been practicing giving and trusting God with my disappointments and in those acts, I am being regenerated from the ground up.