About a month ago, after a series of extremely Spirit-led events, I finally began to obey the call to write a book. As a result, I have had to discern what activities are vital in my life and what activities are not as urgent. My goal before I began my book was to contribute to my blog about once every seven to ten days, but as I try to find a rhythm of writing for my book, my blog posts might be more spread out. This saddens me because I know that I have a handful of faithful readers who seem to find encouragement and hope through my blog posts. You aren’t forgotten. I’m still trying to invest in this blog as well as in my book. It just might be a bit less frequent.
Let’s talk about communion this morning. I love the Spirit-led life because just when I think things might get boring, God opens up another door to a room in my heart that needs healing. This past Sunday was our final Sunday of worship at our little three-year-old church in West Wichita. It has been a season of grief, confusion, uncertainty, and glory as we have sought the face of God in the conclusion of Renew as we know it. We closed our service with the sacrament of communion in the round. As we created a human circle around the periphery of our black-box sanctuary just before the final benediction, we passed the gluten-free pita from Natural Grocers and the challis of Welches Grape Juice. Those of us who were able offered communion to our families, friends, and little ones. And as I held the hands of my six-year-old Lily and four-year-old Elijah, I felt a sense of incompleteness in relation to the body and blood of Christ.
“I just don’t get it,” I thought to myself, sadly. After a life of taking communion, I tend to shrug it off, wish it over, and see it as somewhat of a nuisance. With the awareness of my attitude, I began to feel the Father’s grief for my heart.
We closed our final service with many tears, hugs, and a deepened awareness of the already-but-not-yet-kingdom of our God, and I left with a lingering sense of longing.
My Monday nights now belong to a dynamic, pretty darn charismatic womens’ small group across town, that begins around seven in the evening and concludes in the early hours of Tuesday morning. I know, I know, this is crazy business for me, the momma with major chronic illness who turns out the lights at 8:30 PM at the latest unless I’m on a writing marathon that lasts until 10; But getting home after midnight is unheard of in my current stage of life.
It doesn’t make sense, but here I am: My sweet friend picking me up and hauling me and her 11-year-old daughter 40 minutes across town to this amazingly mind-blowing Jesus party, where we worship unrestrained together for a solid hour, share Biblical words on our hearts for another hour or so, and pray like the Kingdom is here on earth for as many hours as the Spirit leads.
And what is the topic this week?
Of course, God!
We read through various scriptures:
Surely His griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
The Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, took the bread; and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, he took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: This verse has become a common verse for me lately because of the popular worship song, Surrounded (This is how I fight my battles), It is an amazingly powerful song, and I cannot stop playing it on my guitar. This first phrase of the first verse is this statement from the 23rd Psalm, and I have been singing it with conviction for several months.
Last week, however, it occurred to me that I have not fully thought through this statement. Honestly, I have some difficulty with the concept of being seated at a table, chowing down on the finest foods while my enemies watch on. In a way that only God can do, He unveiled my heart and mind in light of this passage, and I saw my own fear, shame, and deep insecurity.
If you have a history with any form of an eating disorder, you might catch where I’m going with this. I am seven years in solid recovery from anorexia, and I still cringe at the thought of being seated at a table in front of a royal feast while a host of my greatest enemies watch me chow down. I am not sure how the general non-eating disordered public feel about eating in front of others, or their enemies, but for me, this is absolutely terrifying. It is not comforting, peaceful, and triumphant, as the Psalmist seems to intend.
Eating in front of others is a vulnerable act for me. It can feel humiliating at times and incredibly shameful. For years, I believed that abstinence from food was a sign of ultimate strength and self-control, and eating was a sign of self-indulgence, gluttony, impurity, and weakness. With that framework of understanding surrounding eating, it is no wonder that communion at best occupies a confusing space in my brain.
If eating is a shameful act, the Lord’s supper cannot be what He intended for it to be: Intimate, relational, holy, and beautiful.
Often, as a leader in worship or other parts of the service, I seem to accidentally miss the moment of communion, and frankly, I rarely even notice. This place of nonchalance around communion is no longer okay with my spirit. The Holy Spirit is stirring up holy discontent regarding my dismissal of communion as a sacrament. God is saying that He wants to restore and redeem communion in my life, and I suspect that this restoration will actually cause a deep ripple effect even in my relationship with my body, food, and further healing from my eating disorder.
So here I am seated, at that table, prepared for me by my gracious, generous, loving God. My enemies look on, snarling, mocking, shaming, reminding me of my “unworthiness”, of the dreaded vulnerability of receiving good gifts from a loving God. And I have a choice. It is a vitally important choice. Will I sit with the dignity and grace of the beloved, before the wormy, snarling enemy, uttering lies about my unworthiness? Will I silence his accusations as I partake in the cleansing body and blood of my Lord, who took my sins so that I would not have to bear the weight of them?
Yes, I will.
Lord, help me, as I seek your holy and redemptive truth about your Body and Blood. Thank you for that table that you have prepared, that even before I saw its worth, you knew it was just what I needed. Redeem my relationship with communion, and in doing so, redeem my relationship with my body and with food.