Picture my church’s Thanksgiving potluck. Long tables covered with platters of steaming turkey, slow cookers brimming with dressing and green beans and potatoes, bowls of fruit salads and vegetable salads and Snickers “salads” (one Midwestern oxymoron I can’t quite accept), and pies of every kind.
The cooks step back and survey the table, satisfied. Kids sidle closer as the last dishes get nudged in among earlier ones.
Someone wedges a tub of store-bought broccoli salad in behind the homemade offerings, looking apologetic.
And off to the side fidgets someone who arrived empty-handed, wondering if they’re really welcome at this table.
Everyone Brings Something
Believe me, at that table, whether it’s a roasted turkey or a longing tummy, each person’s contribution is valuable. And each one is necessary.
At God’s table, even the needs are needed. How else would folks with plenty get to practice sharing as God shares: generously, joyfully, never expecting the favor returned? (How would any of us remember that before God we are all bankrupt, with holey pockets?)
But even though we started bankrupt, by God’s grace we don’t finish that way. When Christ redeems us, He gives us something to bring to the table.
We have God’s image to exhibit. We have unique strengths He gave us. We have wisdom gained from experiences on our journey with Him. And we have the gifts His Spirit bestows on us for His service.
Among God’s adopted children, no one comes to the table empty-handed.
Found Your Place?
Far too many Christ-followers fidget, head down, ten steps back from the table, because they feel they have nothing of value to offer. Are you one of them?
Then let me encourage you with these glimpses of people finding their places at God’s table:
- The Board: Feeling outclassed and insignificant, I hesitantly accepted an invitation to join the board of a Christian nonprofit that’s dear to my heart. At my first meeting, I gradually realized each person there had unique skills and experience to share. What a shock to discover that even I—yes, I—had something in my head that no one else had. As a group, we could see each other’s value. We recognized each other’s place at that table.
- The Staff: The four women I work with part-time at a pregnancy help center started passing the Kleenex box at our last staff meeting. Why? Because one of us shared a tough situation she was helping friends deal with, and one after another of us shared how a similar situation had taken place in our own lives. That’s when it occurred to me: we each had a place at that table—that ministry—not because we had no scars, but because we had been hurt and broken and—by Jesus—healed. Now we have hope to pass on to others.
Come to the Table—and Bring a Friend
So don’t neglect to share what you’ve been given: your scars, your need, your gifts, your strengths. Like the five loaves and two fish, in the hands of Jesus, they become more than enough. Your contribution is valuable.
Step up. Take your place at the table. If you’ve been hesitant to contribute, why wait any longer? Have faith—not in your gifting, but in the Gift-Giver—and start sharing what you’ve got.
If you haven’t found your avenue for contributing, ask a friend who’s contributing already to help you find that place where you’re needed.
And if you’re already sharing what you’ve got, look around for those needing a little affirmation. Maybe they need help recognizing their gifts, or finding a way to use them. In the body of Christ, every part is essential.