It was a planning day at school today. There are lots of things I love about planning days. I can get caught up on things, collaborate with teachers, and ….listen to whatever I want to.
I like having music in class. Lately we’ve been singing “Be a Learner”, “Sight Words Song”, and a really cool “RESPECT” rap. Even though I enjoy singing them with my students, these songs wouldn’t be on my song list. No, today, I got to listen to what I wanted to.
Awhile ago, I was listening to Josh Garrells quite a bit. I have a few favorites, but the song I listened to again and again and again today was ‘at the table’. It’s such a great song for so many reasons.
Here–you can click on it while you read…or just click on it 🙂
Anyway, so I listened to it so many times that it probably would’ve driven anybody else crazy. But that’s me,…some songs, I can listen to so many times without growing tired of them at all. “At the Table” is one of those. (I’m still listening to it right now.)
I don’t know if it’s the story line of the song…the story of a man venturing out, losing innocence, and experiencing lots of changes and growing pains. The mom at home is reminding her son of the sense of belonging. And it’s the big picture ‘story’ of the Prodigal Son…. that child running from home to find whatever,…and the Father always knowing that ‘there will always, always be a ‘place for you at my table…return to me.”
So yeah, I love the acoustics, the vocals, and the vibe of the song. But the message? The message wins. Because it is so not about the love of family and the being-in-there-for-the-good-and-bad, it’s a song that’s so closely aligned to the story of the Prodigal Son. It speaks of love that welcomes us Home. So thankful Jesus is the door we can run through to the arms of the Father. Love that. Coming on home is a turning from and a turning to. It’s a turning from the things that draw us away, and a confessing that, nope, that’s not for me…that’s not Home. I have a table where I’m always welcome…that I can run to. And it’s so not about the table but the people around it.
So, anyway, today I was listening to that and thinking on that quite a bit. Am aware of a close friend who seems to be ‘walking along a crooked mile’ running and ‘forgetting where they’ve come from’…(this is a ‘good man’s child’ too,as the song says..). Anyway, that was on my mind as I came home and piddled around a bit. Then I read a cool little quote that went so along with where my thoughts were today. Here it is:
“While they were looking for the white horse upon which would ride their earthly elevation, a baby was born in the obscurity of a manger, through whom would come all mankind’s true definition, as the children of God raised to share in His high and holy spiritual position. With a seat at the table who needs inferior labels.” ~ Dan Bailey
Such a big truth. Yep. Not sure why we’re so often searching for what doesn’t satisfy when what does is so often available right where we are. But yeah, No labels needed… at the table. No superior labels. No inferior labels. No endless hoops to jump through or constant scrutiny over this or that, only a welcome that invites us to come and join in the celebration, the feast, the joy of being with the One who loves us most. There’s such a difference between earning acceptance, and accepting an invitation. Accepting an invitation is a response to someone who wants you there.
It’s like Jesus paid the ticket, and our seat is reserved. We’ve just gotta turn from what draws us away from home and come Home in our hearts, and our minds, and get our feet a walking…or running to those we belong to…here on earth, and in a bigger sense, to the Creator who “loves us with an everlasting love…”, the Father who comes dancing as the son comes home ashamed of where he’s gone. Arms open wide change hearts.
One Sunday, I was at church. One of my former students was there, sitting a few rows down from me, and midway through the service, as people were singing and the lights were low, he was being escorted (to the bathroom, or to a bit of a time out, I’m not sure which, lol…) But I couldn’t contain myself, I held my arms open wide and told him how I missed him and that I loved him. I’m sorry if it doesn’t seem appropriate in this world of political correctness and walking safe lines, but this foster child living in a group home needed a sense of belonging, and we have a long history. He smiled so big. See, we had years together. Years of me drawing boundaries, and him honoring them sometimes, but very often pushing the limits. Years of instruction on every level. I’m convinced that the thing that helped him break down barriers was a therapy dog we had as well as an amazing foster mom. He finally learned to trust…by the unconditional love of a sweet sweet dog who comes to our classroom. Un-conditional love. My love, well, it wasn’t perfect. But Skye the therapy dog, showed that total acceptance and unconditional love. Didn’t matter where the student had been, where he was going, he was loved. And that changed everything. His demeanor, his willingness to listen. His response to correction. Still a long journey, but he’s on his way.
And maybe that’s what this song is to me…It’s a knowing that Love of God that opens the door wide to those who come…whether they be on the crooked road, or straight laced as all get out. Whether they have labels and accolades, or a trail of tears, there’s a welcoming home for those who accept the welcome. Thankful for the beautiful visual of arms open wide of a Father that welcomes us Home….and that love makes us want to stay right there…at the table.
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with[d]prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the [e]pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, [f]‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
Luke 15: 11-32
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9