I’m an introverted person. One of the distinctive marks of an introvert is that they don’t mind going to a restaurant and asking for a table for one. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating and being with people. I love a good dinner party, or going out to eat with friends. I also enjoy a meal by myself. I enjoy the calmness of a table for one. There are no social expectations, no awkward silences. There might be a book, or a crossword puzzle, or a legal pad and a pen.
I enjoy a table for one. It can be a space for reflection, meditation, or even prayer. Sometimes though, it is not…
God “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” reads Psalm 23. What if it is a table for one?
What if the enemy is within?
I’ve sat with myself on dark and lonely nights.
What if the enemy is my own apathy?
I’ve walked by pain, turned a blind eye to the suffering of my neighbor.
What if the enemy is my own comfort?
I’ve chosen to settle for the inertia of inaction over disrupting the status quo.
What if the enemy is my own pride?
I’ve avoided the one that hurt me. I’ve held onto bitterness, even when the taste in my mouth was too much to bear.
What if the enemy is my own fear?
I’ve walked away from persecution, and participated in unjust systems for fear of the wrath would be turned onto me.
So Jesus, what then?
You tell me to love my enemies. Am I to love my enemy when the enemy is looking back at me in the mirror?
I know the answer. I’ve sat at that table before. Still, God meets me there.
I sit at the table in the presence of my enemy, and can only confess to my God and myself the times I have fallen short. I sit with myself and have no choice but to forgive, so I may be forgiven. I sit at my table for one and am confronted with the profound absurdity of the gospel. There is good news in sitting at the table for one.
There is confession. There is forgiveness. There is grace. There is bread for me to eat, and a cup overflowing. There is oil being poured out on my head with such exuberance and abundance it seems shocking. There at the table for one I learn that goodness and mercy are following me. No, they are doing more than following me. They are pursuing me. Actively, purposefully, God is pursuing me.
Goodness and mercy are pursuing me, even when I flee. Goodness and mercy are pursuing me, even when my apathy and my comfort and my pride and my fear seem to get the best of me. God is pursuing me, and sometimes it is only at a table for one that I pause long enough to sense it.