Even While They Watch

By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Amy Owen
By Jill Asibelua
By Madi McGraw
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Jeremy Varnell
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Alban Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Glenda Root
By Oscar Camacho, Jr
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Don Robb
By Mike Pope
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Ruby King
By Shannon Lewis
By Susan Weiser
By Charles Pierce
By Chase Studdard
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Jodie Niznik
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Erin Hargrave
By Katie Geurin
By Bryan Eck
By Ginger Holland
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Bob Downey
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Lynda Reynolds
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Lindsey Sobolik
By Scott McClellan
By Michelle Tibbatts
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

In the 23rd Psalm, the writer says to God, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” God — host-God, table-setting God, banquet-setting God — he spreads a feast for us in the presence of enemies.

The Psalmist King David was perhaps talking about political enemies or actual, enemy-enemies of the sword and shield and plundering type. We, too, have many of these enemies, and we’ve especially felt the cold shade of their presence this month. But I also have another enemy, one closer to home. Several, actually. My enemies are many: my lack of faith, my sinful lusts, my selfishness, my idolatry. Myself. My sin. I am my own worst enemy. Is the table still for me? 

After Jesus miraculously feeds the 5,000, he tells them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (6:35) It seems that Jesus, too, prepares a table. And yet I’m hungry, and parched, and malnourished. I am waiting for those enemies of mine — those parts of myself I haven’t fixed yet — to turn around, shuffle off and disperse. First, they go. Then, I eat.

What does God expect? For me to turn my back to my enemies, even though they’re standing there with swords drawn and chests bared in battle paint? They taunt, “Oh sure, you’re feasting NOW. But you know I’m right here, and you’re inevitably going to turn my direction again, away from the table, so you might as well not sit down in the first place!” I created these enemies; they’re my problem, not God’s. Sometimes, I even enjoy and befriend and make blood pacts with them. I don’t deserve this table. Besides, what if one stabs me in the back while I’m turned away?

Well, the Psalmist doesn’t mention THAT contingency. He’s trying to write a POEM, after all. For crying out loud. For all that is holy. He just moves on.

King David steers the imagery along to how God anoints his head with oil, and how his cup overflows. The enemies are not mentioned again in Psalm 23. It’s almost as though they’re incidental to the real story of his life, like ensemble members in a show designed only to highlight the principal player: God himself. David’s story, our story, is a story about God’s great unrelenting heart:

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord 
forever.”

My own best attempts at self-feeding — idolatry, and self-centeredness, and indulgence — these enemies do not change the fact that there is a table. A table spread for me.  And If I will turn away and sit down at that table, then, just like that, my enemies suddenly go from enemies to — bystanders. Bystanders to a meal. Wallflowers at a good party. 

Perhaps these begrudging onlookers will never go away altogether, but that doesn’t change the fact that the table is still there. Like it or not! It’s there, spread out like a heaping, checkered picnic blanket with all the good things of God. And it’s for ME. And I’m so, so hungry.

Let’s turn away, sit, and eat, today, even in the questionable company we’ve brought along with us.

Maybe you’d like to pray your way into that party right now:

Lord, I know I crave lesser nutrients, for water that will leave me thirsty again, for bread that will leave me hungry again. Give me the spiritual health required to enjoy that fare safely, all the while tucking into Your bounty — your grain, your meat, your fruit — for my real energy. 

Let my daily sustenance come from you. 

Give me the structural integrity to drink that real water, to eat that real bread; to swallow it, digest it, be fueled by it. By You.

I devour it as best I can today — even while my enemies watch.

Amen. 

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