Today Ann Voskamp is writing about the Practice of Sacrifice over at her blog, A Holy Experience and she asks her readers to share their own journey with this practice. One recent memory stands out for me, so I am sharing that with all of you today.
Many years ago someone close to me had given us a third-generation oak dining room table that they did not want. For twenty years it became our gathering place for all family meals, and as the family grew we just put in another leaf and added another chair until it held us all. Then a few years ago, when our nest was almost empty, we bought another table and chairs and used the old oak table just for holiday get-togethers. I offered it back to the family member who gave it to us, but she declined at the time.
The newer table lost its luster quickly and brought with it no history, so the weathered oak table eventually took its rightful place back in our dining room where we enjoyed adding grandchildren to the list of those who gathered around it.
Then came the day when the person who gave me the table 28 years before asked for it back so her daughter could use it in her first apartment. I admit I had a number of feelings that came with the request, even though I had offered it to her myself 10 years earlier. All I could think about were the many warm memories embedded in its grooves, worn out finish, and weakened joints. I actually found myself going through a grieving process, and in nursing my anger, I became resentful.
Not long after the phone call and request, we planned a trip that would take us near the home of my "requester". As I sat in my recliner one morning praying, I heard God clearly say to me, "Take her the table". I quickly responded, "I am not taking her the table!" His gentle but firm reply? "Take her the table". I remember thinking, this is soooo not fair, but I knew in my heart it was right and that obedience to God was important for me in this situation. In some ways letting go and letting God became a practice of sacrifice as Ann named it over at A Holy Experience.
So arrangements were made and a week later we put the table in our van and gently brought it back to one of the original owners, where it could carry on in its purpose to be the center of a home where people gather to be nourished in soul and body. In it's transference, I surrendered not only the table but my negative feelings and chose instead to remember the joy we shared around it's smooth edges. I knew deep inside it wasn't the table that made the memories, it was the relationships of those who gathered there.