My son is an extrovert much like I am. Every day when I pick him up from school, he either wants to go to someone’s house or he wants someone to come to ours. Most days, i have to tell him, “No.” Then on the way home we have to have another conversation. “Why can’t we just go to their house and have dinner tonight,” he asks. “Because you can’t invite yourself to someone else’s house,” I’ll tell him. Back and forth we go. I have to explain they’re not expecting us. They haven’t prepared enough food. They may be eating out. They may have other friends coming over. They may just want to be alone, which is a foreign concept to him. Although we have this conversation several times a week, he doesn’t stop wanting to show up at friend’s houses uninvited.
In 2 Samuel 9, David remembered his promise to Jonathan to always show kindness to the house of Saul. He asked if there was anyone left alive and they told him Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth was still alive, but he was crippled. David immediately sent an invitation to him to come over. When he arrived, Mephibosheth was nervous and scared wondering if he was going to be killed. In verse 7 David said, “Don’t be afraid, I will be kind to you for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will give you back all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always be welcome at my table” (GNT). The chapter ends saying that Mephibosheth ate all his meals at the king’s table just like one of the king’s sons.
Mephibosheth is a representation of you and I. We’ve been crippled by our sins, yet God invites us to sit at His table. So many times we feel unworthy to sit there, but we have been invited to sit there every day to dine with Him. While on our own, we would never be worthy to sit there, Jesus became our righteousness and made us sons of God. Romans 8:16 gives us this powerful promise, “God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children.” That makes us the King’s sons and daughters and creates an open invitation to join Him daily. Even when you don’t feel like you deserve it, come to the table. You are a child of God and belong at His table where your mental, physical and spiritual needs are met daily.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
How heavy is the burden you’re carrying right now? We all carry burdens with us. Freedictionary.com lists these as synonyms of burden: trouble, care, worry, trial, weight, responsibility, stress, strain, anxiety, sorrow, grievance, affliction, onus, albatross, millstone, encumbrance. All these things wear us down, make us tired and cause us not to move forward. We carry them inside and try not to let anyone know that they’re weighing us down. Somehow we’ve come to believe it’s a badge of honor to bear these burdens. It’s a way to show others were stronger than they believe. The truth is that you weren’t meant to carry these heavy burdens that distract us from our purpose by ourselves.
I love Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28. He said, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis” (TPT). One version refers to this burden as a yoke which would wrap around an animals neck to help them plow. Jesus’ metaphor here is symbolic of a yoke that would hold two animals. He wants to help you carry that burden. We’re even directed as believers in Galatians 6:2 to help each other carry their burdens. In each case, it requires the burden bearer to seek that help. When a burden is shared, the weight is cut in half. Quit believing the lies that it’s yours to carry alone and that no one else cares. God is available to help you and has placed people around you to help you.
Jesus continued in Matthew 11:29, “Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.” It takes us joining our life with His and submitting to His yoke rather than our own. To me, that’s the hard part here, and in my mind it doesn’t always make sense. Yielding to Christ’s burden, rather than our own, and trusting Him with ours, is an act of faith. It’s trusting God to take care of something we’ve taken ownership of whether we were meant to or not. Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise the Lord, who carries our burdens day after day; he is the God who saves us” (GNT). God is ready and waiting for you to trust Him enough to go to Him and let Him help you day by day. Start by praying and saying out loud that you submit to His burden and need His help. Then share it with a trusted friend.
How much time do you spend in prayer each day? I once read that D.L. Moody spent up to 8 hours a day in prayer. That has always challenged me. I’ve been on church trips where the men would take a two day trip to spend them in fasting and prayer. There would be times when you would see people nod off. When they woke up, they would snap their head back up and say, “Amen!” On those trips I learned how hard it was to spend a lot of time in prayer, even with prayer a focus each hour. It’s also where I learned that prayer was a conversation with God. Can you imagine an 8 hour one way conversation? It was then that I learned to tune into God’s voice by giving Him time to speak in my prayer time.
You can’t read the Gospels without seeing how much time Jesus devoted to prayer. Sometimes He would spend an entire night in prayer, alone with God. The disciples were intrigued by how much time He prayed and even asked Him to teach them how to pray. They saw that prayer was important to Jesus and were challenged to pray more. Prayer became a cornerstone of the Early Church. It actually was birthed from a ten day prayer meeting. Can you imagine praying for ten days straight? I’m convinced that that kind of prayer is the missing element in today’s Church. We must return to being people of prayer. We have to make spending time with God a priority bot privately and corporately if we want to become effective in this world.
Colossians 4:2 says, “Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving” (AMP). Have we lost our persistence in prayer? Have we made prayer a priority? It’s not too late to return to this foundational principle of our faith. I don’t know if God is asking you to give Him 8 hours, but you can start with at least 8 minutes. We need to have time set aside each day where we spend it in prayer without being interrupted. We need a place to meet with God where we won’t fall asleep or have distractions that will cause our mind to wander. I believe God is calling you and I back to being people of prayer. Not just rote prayers over meals and bedtime, but real conversations with God. He’s waiting for us. Will we make spending time with Him a priority? Only you can answer that.
I’ll never forget the first time I climbed up the side of a mountain. I was somewhere in Washington State a month or two after my mom passed away. I remember the climb up was more difficult than I imagined. When I got halfway up, I sat down to take break. As I looked down on the valley, I was struck by its beauty and lush vegetation. I remember thinking that while I couldn’t stay in the valley, I could at least grow while I was in it. What had seemed dark and dry from below, now looked like fertile soil from higher up. God used that climb to speak to me and to bring healing. I wasn’t meant to stay in the valley, but just because I was walking through one, it didn’t mean God couldn’t grow me through it. What seemed like a dry time in my life was really God planting seeds in fertile soil.
When we go through some of the darkest times in our life, we refer to it as going through a valley. David famously wrote in the 23rd Psalm, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT). God doesn’t leave us when we go through the valleys of life. He’s close to you even when you can’t feel Him, and He’s given you tools for protection and comfort. He then prepares a table for you there representing that you will be taken care of and that you can thrive even in the darkest times of your life.
I like the promise given in Psalm 84:6-7. It says, “As they pass through the dry valley of Baca, it becomes a place of springs; the autumn rain fills it with pools. They grow stronger as they go; they will see the God of gods on Zion” (GNT). Your dry, dark times will become a place of life that you will look back on the rest of your life to draw strength from. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but when you get more perspective as you move forward up the mountains in your life, you will see that God never left you and He uses these times to make us stronger. Keep pushing forward through what seems like a dark and dry time, trust the promises in God’s Word and know that what you’re walking through is preparing you to make a difference in the lives of others. What seems like an end is truly a new beginning.
Thanks to Sohaib Ghyasi @sohaibghyasi for making this photo available freely on Unsplash