Throughout the stories of Saul, David, and Solomon we often read of a person who has attained the privilege of eating at the king’s table. We see this with Mephisbosheth in 2 Samuel 9. David desired to show kindness to someone from Saul’s family for the sake of his friend Jonathan. Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son, and David did not hesitate to show kindness to him. Eating at the king’s table was one of the many things David did for Mephibosheth.
Over the weekend, Aaron and I had the privilege of attending the wedding of his cousin Hayley. The ceremony was beautiful and meaningful. A true worship service. The reception was like something straight out of a movie. It was in a garden at a sculpture museum under a canopy of trees amidst peaceful fountains and stunning sculptures. The trees were lit by hundreds of tiny light bulbs, and the tables were set with fine china and crystal. I felt as if I was at a royal dinner. In the midst of all this beauty, my mind drifted to the kings of Israel. Was this what eating at the king’s table was like? Was there live music and dancing? Fine wine and people dressed in their finest? What must Mephibosheth have felt at the generosity and kindness of King David?
From here my mind drifted to thoughts of heaven and a feast at the ultimate king’s table, the King of Kings. What a joyous day it will be to be in God’s presence!
I am taking a spiritual formation class this semester, and one thing we have been talking about recently is truly being present with people. Present in the mundane, present in the messiness, present in the highs, present in the lows. Presence is the idea of completely setting myself, my agenda, my problems, my joys aside, and truly listening to the other person. Presence is allowing someone to fully express the depths of their emotion without interjecting my advice or my stories.
Our professor begins our class every Tuesday and Thursday with a spiritual practice. Tuesday we began with an imagination prayer exercise in which we imagined ourselves sitting and talking with Jesus about things which we had recently been on our hearts. As I sat there next to Jesus, I poured my heart out to him. Words came tumbling out of my mouth as they often do when I’m at my most vulnerable place. The interesting thing to me was not what I said, however, but what Jesus did in response. Rather than tell me some grand advice or comforting word, Jesus just held me. Jesus, God Incarnate, the Savior of the world, simply hugged me.
At first this was frustrating to me. Why didn’t Jesus tell me something? But as I’ve had time to think and process this experience, I began to realize Jesus did the only appropriate thing. He was present with me. He listened to me. He gave me space to express my deepest heartaches and frustrations and He sat with me in that place. I wonder how often Jesus desires to be present with me, but I fill our time together with a bunch of words. Not that words are bad, they are a necessary part of our lives and play an appropriate role in prayer. But sometimes I think Jesus desires to sit with us and offer the comfort of His touch but we miss it because we are so busy talking at Him.
I’ve often wondered how some people spend hours in prayer. “I would run out of things to say,” I’ve often thought. But perhaps that’s the point. These people are not spending hours talking but simply being and allowing Jesus to be with them. We expect answers when we pray. What if the answer is Jesus’ presence?
The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions. We have been to the deepest, darkest valley and back again. Through it all, I have been overwhelmed by God’s presence and the peace He brings. Sometimes presence is more powerful than words or answers. With presence comes peace.
As of 3:09am eastern time on Sunday, October 16, I am an aunt. Nolan Andrew Beazley was born yesterday to Aaron’s brother Luke and his wife Brittany, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Aunt Stephanie. That still sounds weird to me! It’s also quite a mouthful. Maybe Aunt Steph is better. Either way, we are super excited and ready to meet the little guy. The only problem? He lives in North Carolina. Boo. I really hope we don’t have to wait until Christmas! Congratulations Luke & Brittany!
As I was reading Judges for class last week, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote a couple years ago for our Camp Machaceh blog. I thought it might be fun to repost my thoughts on Gideon’s 300 person army from May 2008. Aaron and I were gearing up for our second summer of Camp Machaceh, and seminary was still over a year away. Staff recruiting had been a difficult journey that year, as it has been most years. But God provided for our every need, though not always in the way we expected.
From May 28, 2008
Lately, Aaron has been calling our summer staff Gideon’s Army and for good reason. Back in the fall when we started planning for this summer, we thought we needed at least 10 counselors. “We can’t possibly run our program with less,” we thought. But here we are three and a half weeks until staff training starts, and we have half the number we thought we needed.
I can just imagine Gideon’s face when God told him “you have too many men for me to deliver Midian into [your] hands” (Judges 7:2). I imagine him thinking something along these lines: “Are you sure God? Have you seen the Midianite army? You want to reduce my army of thousands down to 300?!” (Find the whole story of Gideon in Judges 6-8.)
But God in His infinite love and wisdom had a plan for those 300 men. In Judges 7:2, God goes on to explain why He wants to reduce the army: “in order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her.”
Put another way: “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” –George Muller
If God wants to use 5 counselors and Aaron and me to show His love to campers this summer, who am I to question Him? After all, He often uses a very small number of people to do very big things. (Gideon isn’t the only example. Read Judges. And the rest of the Bible for that matter.) While I still hope and pray that God will provide at least one more counselor, I can rest in the knowledge that His plan is perfect. I have faith that He will provide the staff we need to run three weeks of camp. And in the end, God gets all the glory because the only explanation for Camp Machaceh’s success is His provision.
Camp Machaceh Staff 2008
When I was a senior in high school, my senior class at church selected Joshua 1:9 as our theme verse for the year.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We recited this verse each Sunday morning. It was a fitting verse for such a transitional time in our lives. However, I have realized that God’s message to Joshua about courage is an important one for most stages in life. In college, I needed to trust in God’s presence and guidance as I made decisions regarding my major and other future decisions including getting married. Over the last 7 years, I have needed to be courageous and rely on God’s guidance as Aaron and I started Camp Machaceh. Courage also came into play as Aaron and I transitioned to seminary and life in Waco. I find much peace in God’s promise to always be with Joshua wherever he went.
Over the last few weeks, my mother in law was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer and underwent surgery to remove the tumors. She is home from the hospital and well on the road to recovering from surgery, but she faces a long road of chemo ahead of her. My prayer for her and our family on this journey is Joshua 1:9. Regardless of the outcome or the difficulty of the road, I pray that we will always remember and take courage in God’s presence with us.
I am part of a minority group. This may seem like an odd statement considering I am a white, middle class American, but I am a minority all the same. You see, I am left-handed in a world created for right handed people. Ever noticed how the pen attached to the credit card machine is geared toward right handed people? Or how most desks in college classrooms are for right-handers? So it is no wonder I have always enjoyed the story of Ehud in Judges 3. Now don’t get me wrong, it is quite a disturbing story. Ehud showed up to present tribute to King Eglon, but when the king was left alone with him, Ehud drew his sword and “thrust it into Eglon’s belly.” The Bible includes all the gory detail about the entire sword entering his belly and the fat closing over it. Overall, a rather disgusting story. What I like about this story, though, is in verse 15- “But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man” (emphasis added). Ehud was able to carry out his task of killing King Eglon because he was left-handed. The guards would not have thought to check Ehud’s right thigh for a weapon because everyone was right-handed and would have strapped their swords to their left thighs. Often being left-handed was looked down on and in some cases seen as evil. But here we see God using Ehud to rescue his people, and the writer pointed out that he was left-handed. I guess being left-handed has its perks after all.