Faith: Setting The Table When There Isn’t Any Food…
I have been blessed to read three different biographies of George Muller (please click HERE, HERE, and HERE); the LORD is deeply impacting my life through the faith of this 19th century man who learned to trust in God alone, through prayer, while taking care of over 10,000 orphans over 60+ years.
I have been particularly inspired by George’s bold example of meticulously setting the tables for hundreds of orphans–and thanking God for food through a pre-meal prayer–even on days where there was NO FOOD in the pantry and no money to buy any! What faith in Christ to thank Him AHEAD OF TIME, to set out plates, cups & bowls AHEAD OF TIME in child-like trust that God will cater the meal and fill those plates, cups & bowls.
What would it look like for ME to have faith in Jesus like that? What would it look like for YOU?
The Holy Spirit brought this to my mind this morning as I listened to the Bible on CD (please click HERE for different options) while driving to work. As the narrator read the short Bible book of Philemon, verse 22 was like a barrage of fireworks in my heart:
Philemon 1:22: “Prepare a guest room for me [Paul], because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.”
-Paul was in a Roman prison for boldly telling everyone and anyone that Jesus is the Savior of the world, the One True King. From an earthly perspective, there was little or no hope that Paul would ever be set free! And yet he boldly asked Philemon not just to continue praying for Paul’s release, but to practically/tangibly put his faith in Jesus into practice by physically preparing for Paul’s release! Amazing–Setting the table when there isn’t any food!
Then the Holy Spirit blessed me to remember other examples of this in the Bible, when God asked people, in one way or the other, to set the table when there wasn’t any food!
1 Kings 17:7-16 (please click HERE): “Don’t be afraid…But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son” (verse 13).
-WOW! There had been a drought in the land for three years, people were starving, and the prophet Elijah met a foreign widow who was gathering sticks to prepare a meager final meal for her and her son. After realizing the woman’s horrific situation, he boldly–through his faith in the LORD to provide EVEN IN A DROUGHT!–asked the woman to FIRST share with Elijah some of her family’s final meal. And what faith in the LORD the woman had–SHE DID what Elijah asked! She shared out of her poverty, and God then shared with her & her son out of the riches of His love. Amazing–Setting the table when there isn’t any food!
(And it must be noted that the woman CONTINUED to place her faith in the LORD everyday, every time she used by the last of her flour and oil–her faith wasn’t a one-time event, wasn’t a one-time miracle. By making that “final” meal each day for many months, with no earthly guarantee [except for God’s promise through His prophet Elijah] that the flour and oil would be replenished, she continued to set the table when there wasn’t any food, and God continued to give her & her son their daily bread [not enough flour and oil to store up for months, but just enough to survive & thrive each day]. What an example for us all!)
Luke 17:11-19 (please click HERE): “And as they went, they were cleansed” (verse 14).
-WOW! Though Jesus sometimes healed people immediately, for this particular miracle, he asked the ten lepers to begin walking to the Temple to show themselves to the priests there (i.e., to show the priests that they were in fact healed as a testimony to the love & power of the LORD!). Before they could see that they were healed, before there was any earthly evidence that Jesus had powerfully & lovingly answered their request for pity, Jesus asked them to begin walking to the Temple to thank & praise God as if they were healed! Amazing–setting the table when there isn’t any food!
And there are many other examples of this in the Bible…
Reminds me of the following quote:
“Prayer is asking for rain, and faith is carrying an umbrella” (Robert C. Savage)–
even when it’s sunny out!
What Might This Look Like For Us, Setting the Table When There Is No Food?
1. Placing our faith in Jesus, even though we haven’t seen Him with our physical eyes, even though we still have MANY questions, even though we still have doubts, even though some/many others will think we are nuts, naive, or both!
2. Reading the Bible consistently (alone AND with others!), even though we aren’t seeing much change in our lives, even though it is difficult to understand, even though we don’t want to, even though (we think!) there is no time.
3. Praying to Jesus daily (talking AND listening!) even though He seems far, even though our previous prayers don’t seem to have been answered, even though we don’t feel like it, even though we don’t “know how.”
4. Serving faithfully in a local church, even though (we think!) there is no time, even though we don’t want to, even though we’re tired, even though we don’t agree with church leadership, even though we’ve been burned in the past in different ways, even though we don’t think we will do a good job.
5. Giving money to God sacrificially through the local church and other ways, even though (we think!) we don’t have enough, even though (we think!) our little bit won’t matter, even though we might have to give up some other things that we want.
6. Investing in strained/wounded/dying/dead relationships (marriage, children, siblings, parents, in-laws, co-workers, geographical neighbors, global neighbors, other Christians, etc.) even though they don’t deserve it, even though they’ve hurt us in the past, even though we’re tired, even though (we think!) it won’t make a difference.
7. Telling others with our words about Jesus’ love & grace, about His free offer of forgiveness TO ANYONE who receives/accepts Him as their Savior, even though it is scary, even though we might not know “how,” even though they might get angry with us, even though we’ve tried in the past and it hasn’t “done any good,” even though we don’t want to.
8. Coming back to Jesus even though we’ve wandered FAR from Him, even though we think He won’t take us back, even though a big part of us doesn’t want to, even though we are scared, even though our once-vibrant faith in Him has been comatose for years.
9. Praising God in worship even though [we think!] He hasn’t come through for us, even though He allowed/didn’t stop tragedy from happening to us, even though we feel like we are going through the motions, even though we don’t “feel” like worshiping Him, even though we aren’t sure how to worship Him…
My friends, may we ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith in Jesus, may we ask God to help us have such child-like faith in Him that we will boldly & humbly set the table for God in our daily lives even when there isn’t [doesn’t seem to be] any food.
May we, like Habakkuk in the Bible, praise God for Who He is and thank Him for what He has done & will do, even when the pantry is bare, even when our stomachs are empty, even when our bank accounts are depleted, even when our spirits are dry with drought, even when our hope is emaciated, even when our joy is paralyzed, even when our responsibilities are overwhelming–may we remember God’s genuine willingness & powerful ability to prepare/cater a feast for us, even in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5):
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights”
(Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV, emphasis mine).