Lingering at the table after a good meal, for the sake of just talking, is something you don't see much of. Every one's busy nowadays and it's rare that families eat meals together as a usual thing. Because it was such a major component of my life when I was growing up, I just planned that it would be the same for our family of four- and it has been a pretty sure thing that we eat supper together every single night.
Now, I try to do my part in making the kids want to be there by not doing some of the things that my mother did when I was growing up. Like, for example, serving a strange looking dish with something brown and firm looking centered on the plate, and me asking her, "Mom, what's this?". She answered me in a light breezy way, "Oh, that's just...meat" and went back to puttering around on the stove. My suspicions were definitely raised, because if it was ground beef or chicken or steak she could have just said so. But since she tried to sneak venison or squirrel or God-only-knows what animal onto my plate, I was even more on guard every time I came to the dinner table. That's how it was at my home when I was growing up: my parents were determined to get us eating very strange, healthy things- and we kids were determined to find out what these things were before they entered our mouths.
It's stressful having dinner and playing "Name that Animal on Your Plate". But for some families, the stress of the family meal has to do with what's missing. It's uncomfortable to hang around and talk after a meal because...well, we don't talk to each other before meals or between meals, so why start now?
I thought about this during Church this morning. Actually, I thought about it after the service was over, and we were invited to linger as the Worship Team played on. Many of us stayed in the sanctuary. We stayed in our seats, some of us with our head in our hands, some standing and clapping, some sitting quietly as the worship team stayed and the band played on. And on.
It was so good. I didn't want to leave. It was like we had just been given a very good meal- adequate and nutritious. But then we decided to stay and linger. And by lingering around the table of bounty, the table of fellowship, everyone became more aware of just how good a spiritual meal we had just received. Interestingly, statistics tell us that it takes twenty minutes after we've eaten a meal to feel full- and I think there may be a spiritual correlation as well. Those who lingered were starting to experience the fullness, the weighty presence of God. Our cup was getting filled and filled. Right then. Our faith reservoir was being refreshed.
I heard God whisper to my spirit, "Just linger here at my table." And I did. I just gave in and lingered in the beautiful enveloping peace of His presence. I realized many times God has offered me sustenance and refreshing and I took a bite or a sip and then rushed off- and I could have had more. So much more.
So Bill and I lingered. We stayed. "Thou preparest a table before me..." the psalmist writes- and not just when your enemies are around you. He also prepares a table at every point you need more. It's good to linger at the table where God is there with food for your soul, wind for your sails. By lingering on, you're telling God you believe He has more for you.You're showing God that you see Him as Your Provider, Your Sustainer, Your Bread of Life. And there's more, always more, for those who wait on Him.