I was just ready to bite into my freshly toasted English muffin with peanut butter dripping off its warm edges, when I noticed the blue picnic table.
I was sitting at the introvert table in the cafeteria, the one way back in the corner behind the dividing wall, with a view of the hospital lawn.
Hmmm, I thought. I wonder if the city of Elkhart put it there. It was the same color and shape as the picnic tables in the park by the river where Marnell and I go to play tennis.
Did they just recently put it there? Maybe. One of my co-workers might know. I think it’s been there awhile, but I had never noticed it before like this. This is one reason I like the introvert table, because of the view of the hospital lawn, with it’s towering evergreens. I just never really spent much time thinking about the table, and for some reason, this morning I noticed it.
As I began to eat–and toasted English muffins with peanut butter are SO good!– I remembered my verse for the week.
Before I went back to work this week, I typed the verse, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” on the top of my schedule sheet. When you’re in a confusing, uncertain, or hostile environment, it’s quite hard to imagine God preparing a place of relaxation, nourishment, pleasure, and safety, all of those things we associate with sitting down at a table and eating.
There’s my visual! I realized. The blue picnic table was alone in the expansive lawn. But I had never noticed how small the table looked amid those trees, their rugged limbs silhouetted powerfully against the sky.
Throughout the day, I recited the verse to myself, and when I did I mentally saw the table on the lawn surrounded by giant trees. You prepare a table. God, you will prepare a table for me so I know what to do next. I know you will.
A day or two later, I went to the cafeteria for an afternoon snack of Cheetos. I don’t usually eat these at work, but I had a sudden craving. Someone was sitting in my introvert table. I really just wanted to hide for a moment, maybe because I didn’t want anyone to see me eating junk food. However, I sat a few tables away, in a place where I could still see the lawn.
No sooner had I seated myself, than another hospital employee came around the divider, apparently also looking for the introvert table. She turned around and also choose a table by the lawn, directly in front of me.
I wanted peace and quiet, but just as she sat down, she turned to me and the person behind and said, in a general way, “Now WHO is going to go sit at that table all the way out there?”
It was a rhetorical question, clearly. The girl behind me said something in reply, and the girl in front of me, after noting that the picnic table was much too far from any sidewalk to be accessible, turned around.
Despite my reclusive tendencies at the moment, I took notice immediately. How had the table come up again, for the second time this week?
And I thought, God does prepare a table before us. But sometimes, accepting His preparations may mean stepping out of our own comfort zones and walking with him first through the wilderness, through the giant trees, across the uneven ground of a rarely-walked lawn. Perhaps even when we can’t yet see the table.
“I guess I don’t need to figure everything out right now,” I told Marnell one night.
“No,” he said, with a smile.
He has a great gift of brevity at times. The other night, we walked out onto my porch, and there was no moon.
“It’s gone,” I said sadly. “I bet it spun out of orbit and nobody noticed.”
“Probably so,” he said.
The next morning, I emailed him a picture of the moon above the hospital, with the words, “It’s back!”
And you know what? It’s probably just as ridiculous for me to worry because I can’t figure everything out right now, as it is would be to worry that the moon is gone because I can’t see it.
As long as I know God, I can trust that He knows and is preparing a table before me, if I am brave enough to follow Him across any terrain, even on the days when I wonder if He is still there.