It’s Thanksgiving and my stomach is beginning to prepare for the feast that lies ahead. I woke up at 5 amto put the turkey in to be sure that everything would be ready on time. I’ve lovingly basted that turkey multiple times over the few hours it’s been in the oven. I love a good feast and Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favorite days of the year.
Last night, my wife needed to pick up some last minute things (there always seems to be last minute things for a feast of this magnitude), and I offered to go for her. She has a lot on her plate and any way I can help I should. Offering to go to Wal-Mart is a big deal for me. I HATE going to Wal-Mart… I have a touch of social anxiety with large crowds and chaos, which only seems to get magnified as I get older. If you know me, this probably comes as a surprise because I seem loud and extroverted, which is true in most situations. My anxiety makes it tougher to go to concerts, sporting events, etc. Strangely enough, I work at a decent sized church and it does not bother me there.
If I’m honest, Wal-Mart is extra-difficult because of the many types of people who go there. Sorry if my honesty offends you, but many people that frequent my Wal-Mart are loud, don’t understand personal space, and can be rude. This is exacerbated by the fact that if I’m looking for something specific, it takes me an awful amount of time to find it. I end up walking around the store multiple times and it’s not like you can ever find an employee there. I find myself oscillating somewhere between anger and feeling overwhelmed almost the entire time I am there. Wal-Mart and I are not friends.
As I came home exhausted and feeling like I was about to explode, I began to process. I love to be in control and in that entire situation, I was not in control. I found myself praying and asking God to give me insight. I began to ask God to give me a heart for the people of Wal-Mart. I know weird…
I’m reminded of Jesus going to back to Matthew’s house after he’s just asked him to “follow him.” Jesus sits down for a feast with Matthew and some of his friends. Matthew’s friends were not highly regarded, to say the least. I imagine the people of Wal-Mart being the type of people Jesus would invite to a feast at His house. He would have loved them well and enjoyed their company.
There’s a section of the Ragamuffin Gospel where Brennan Manning talks about this very dilemma and our prejudice. He says, “A friend of mine once told me years ago that the one thing that made her uneasy about heaven is that she won’t get to choose her table companions at the Messianic banquet.” That’s a pretty interesting thought huh? Republicans sitting next to Democrats, religious people next to criminals, uneducated with the educated, the uncool next to those infatuated with their image, all different kinds of people….sinners next to sinners. This feast will be unlike any other.
The image of a feast is a perfect image for this Kingdom Truth. Typically, you only choose to eat with people you like. Sometimes, you are forced to eat with others for meetings etc, but if you had your choice you would probably pick someone who’s company you enjoy. I wonder if in the Kingdom we’ll enjoy people more. The way we’re designed to. To recognize differences and enjoy them. If not, Heaven’s gonna be an awkward place. The Bible never says that there will be no more awkward. The Kingdom is a place where everything is as God has designed it, and He designed us to love others, even in our differences.
I continue to pray for God to soften and change my heart towards others. It’s hard because of my prejudices and anxiety. I don’t want to make excuses for the Kingdom not being lived out in my life. Maybe I need to spend some more time in Wal-Mart. Today, we are having guests at our house for Thanksgiving, some we have never even met. It might get awkward and we might disagree on some things (as long as no one roots against the Cowboys we’ll be fine), but we’ll feast. It’s probably not the Thanksgiving I would have imagined years ago, but God has a funny way of bringing the unexpected when you seek Him. It’s a refining process for me. It’s preparing me for feasting in Heaven. I long for a feast the way God intended it to be. It’s going to be an outrageous party.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”