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A Table in the Middle of Your War?

“Going through transplant is not an accomplishment you can add to your resume. I didn’t accomplish anything. I literally just kept breathing, kept surviving. You would have too. 

I didn’t do anything extraordinary; I received something extraordinary.

I didn’t go through transplant as a one woman show. I wasn’t alone. I cannot fully explain it, but I know God carried me through that hell fire. Disoriented and half conscious, I was safeguarded through it. He commanded my dying lungs to keep breathing long enough for new ones. Transplant showed me a clearer picture of God’s power, persistent presence, and earth-moving love. That floors me everyday. 

But I’m not special. That same earth-moving love is there for you too.”

– EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There are so many reasons why these words both challenge and speak life to me. Additionally, I feel a tension surface when I read this that I cannot ignore. When I read the words “I shall not want,” or some translations say “I have all that I need,” and then look at my life, sometimes (ok many times) it doesn’t quite make sense. I mean, that’s quite a statement when you think about it. I don’t know about you, but most days I don’t think “I have all that I need.” Instead, I think about all the things I’m lacking and things that I do need (or think I need). Whether it’s wanting new clothes or being deeply aware of my need for a new body, there is always something on my list of needs or wants. I don’t think I’m alone in this.But, if God truly is our Shepherd, then we will have ALL of our needs met. Right? That’s what this Psalm is saying at least.Adding more to this curious statement, David (the writer of the Psalm), then walks us through a shadowy valley of death. One where our enemies surround. In fact, it says He “prepares a table before [us] in the presence of [our] enemies (vs.5).” It brings up this tension that all humans experience on some level, regardless of their religious views or lack thereof. –  If God is good and says He will provide for all of my needs, why then do I feel in my soul that my life is not at all how it was supposed to be? This is one of the main questions I am addressing in my book. Is it truly possible to live without lack? Even more specifically, is it possible to live without lack in the midst of debilitating, “valley of death” circumstances, where our enemies are watching over our shoulder? In my experience, many Christian books will immediately jump to “Yes, it is!” Just believe it and live it! But HOWWWW, I ask?? To me, this can feel dismissive when you’re in the middle of overwhelming circumstances. There’s a real wrestle that happens in the valley of death and living without lack and in the fullness of the joy that was meant for us. It’s not just a simple hop from one stepping stone to another. It’s not an “A, B, and C” clear process. It’s a raw, real, intimate wrestle with ourselves and a mighty King named Jesus, who is vigilantly protective over your soul and ready to rescue you. The next verse in this Psalm goes on to say “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Not some of the days, not our younger days, healthier days, not single anymore days, not richer days, parenting days…etc. ALL OF OUR DAYS the Father promises to follow us with His goodness and mercy.
Can I share this word picture with you?
I have always been fascinated with this imagery of a table sitting in the middle of chaos surrounding. Picture a valley of destruction, and in the middle is a wooden table – an unexpected place of safety and rest in the middle of the battleground. There’s an invitation for you to stop fighting, sit, breathe, and eat a feast. Wait, what? That’s absurd and doesn’t seem restful at all. I for one would wonder, “why am I sitting here? I should be out doing my part.” Or I’d be desperate for the break but would not feel at rest because of the chaotic fight ensuing around me. I mean enemies surrounding me while I eat? Sorry, not my favorite place to chow down.But the image doesn’t end there. Actually, the enemies surrounding that table are nowhere to be seen. The fight has stilled. There is another present in that valley. A warrior who has gone in your place. Championing your enemy on your behalf. But you aren’t aware of this until He brings back the head of your enemy and crowns YOU victorious. Yes YOU. The enemies you thought were approaching have already been defeated. Finally, you are at peace. Finally, at rest. I love the lyrics to this song by UPPERROOM called Defender:“You go before I know that you’ve even gone to win my war. You come back with the head of my enemy. You come back and you call it my victory.”What stands out most to me about this picture is that God, our warrior, does this without us asking or even knowing. It’s not based on how well we’ve done in the battle up to that moment. Also, that period of time where you’re sitting at the table waiting, wondering “what the heck am I doing here in this valley?” – God has not only not forgotten you, He has gone out to fight your war on your behalf, so that YOU can have the victory. The valley is real. The injuries we endure are real. The pains are real. The trauma is real. And the victory is real.This image of The One who fights on our behalf, is not just a pleasant thought – it’s a reality that is available to us all, right now. It’s done. And even as you sit now, in whatever war you’re fighting, know that you have a Warrior who has already gone to fight this for you – His name is Jesus! This is what Jesus has done on your behalf! Without us asking, Jesus chose to humble himself to our level, take on sin and death on the cross, conquer death through defeating the powers of Hell and rose to life again, victorious!He does not intend to leave his children on their own. So as you ask your questions, express your fears, anger, sadness….whatever. Please know that all the while, you are not forgotten. And gosh darn it, you WILL have the victory because The King took your place in battle, He took your scars, and He declares mercy and goodness over you, ALL the days of your life!