I was alone at the church this Wednesday, preparing a large table for our second “Agape” gathering — a new monthly celebration of the Eucharist. I found my soul anxious and my spirit restless. I was physically tired, but mostly suffering from fear of disappointing others and myself.
Whenever I put my hands to some new ministry effort — a new class, program, teaching, or initiative — I put lots of pressure on myself to “succeed.” I want this monthly gathering to be worth people’s times. I want to create a holy and sacred space where people encounter God. I want my teaching to be meaningful and inspired. Setting the Lord’s Table had become a surprisingly burdensome task. I felt weighed down.
In the movie Chariots of Fire (1981), olympic sprinter Harold M. Abrahams utters the memorable words as he prepares for another race: “And now in one hour’s time, I will be out there again. I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But will I?”
Can you feel his palpable angst leaking through those gut honest words? What is it in your own life that you have invested so much time, energy, meaning and self-worth into, that if you should fail (or perhaps have it suddenly taken away), your entire reason for being might be called into question?
If something comes to mind (a relationship, skill, career, or grand project), it is likely that this particular “thing”, whether good or bad, is a potential idol in your life. Its also probably a heavy burden to carry at times; its incredibly exhausting trying to justify your own existence.
God gives his children grand projects, high callings, heavy and magnificent burdens to carry. But we’re meant to partner with Him and pursue these things in His power and for His glory! Our identity as the beloved children of God, created in His image and for His purpose — that is the only true reality that justifies our existence.
When we find ourselves striving by our own might, and doing things to fill our own void inside, we find ourselves in that lonely place with Harold Abrahams, staring down a cold, empty corridor.
As I continued to set the Lord’s Table, reflecting on the weightiness of it all, the gentle voice of Jesus broke through the silence and said,
“Jeremy, this is not your Table you’re setting and this is not your Meal to provide. Relax, and let me be the host tonight at this gathering. You do a lot at this church for me and others. Why don’t you give this monthly gathering over to me? Let me preside at My Table. Just relax and come with open hands and willingness to be fed alongside everyone else. I’ll give you the words when necessary. But my Spirit is more than capable of providing a rich and satisfying experience. Do you trust me?”
An hour later I was sitting with other believers at the Lord’s Table. When the time came, I held up the loaf of bread, said the words of institution, and like Harold Abrahams “I raised my eyes and looked down that table, 4 feet wide and for the next 10 seconds” and beyond I felt the warm embrace of Christ’s Presence in the company of saints, and remembered that His sacrifice for my deliverance is what shall always justify my existence!
What is that thing in your life that you need to let Christ preside over? What do you need to place in God’s hands?
Will you join me next month as we gather again at the Lord’s Table for “Agape”? I will be doing my best to get out of the way and let Christ do the heavy lifting and spiritual labor to make His Table and Meal a meaningful experience.