This year has brought a lot of goodbyes for the people in my circle. As the holidays have gone by, I have thought about all the empty chairs around the table.
Grandparents, spouses, and siblings, no longer present to share in the laughter and time-worn stories. Children, living out of state or now in uniform serving our country, too far away to hug Christmas morning. Children here for too short a time, now held only in memories, instead of the arms of a parent.
The common question comes in one word, Why?
I do not have the answer. I am confident God does, but I do not. It is in this place that I sit now. I don’t have the cliches, the little antidotes that will make all seem well. I am at a loss. I can lean on verses I have memorized over the years. The ones that remind me of God’s love for us (Isaiah 43:4) and how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Ephesians 8:26). Sometimes these verses are all I can recall. Yet they are enough.
When the table was set for dinner years ago, when my sons were young, we would set a place for Jesus. It was a literal way to live out the prayer we would say as the meal began, Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Although the words were simple, I wanted to show my sons that it was not just lip service.
So we would set an empty seat, with a place setting, to remind us of the opportunity to invite Jesus into our every day lives. An invitation that can still be extended today, no matter the age.
I have decided to view the empty chairs the same way. It is an opportunity to invite Jesus into where I am right now. Maybe without the person who is no longer able to visit due to his or her health. Or the person is traveling and not able to visit at this time. God can be invited into it all.
So, I will invite Jesus to sit down in that empty chair on the absent person’s behalf. I am not “super religious” by doing this, I am doing this because I need Him. I need Jesus to come into the places where my friends and family are missing.
Jesus, come to where we are, holding on to anything, praying you will bring us the comfort in the steps ahead. Praying for healing, for peace, and for grace, when the words are missing and we don’t know if we’ll make it to the next hour, God. You are there and I pray we will rest in You and Your plans. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
May it be a start, to healing, to wholeness, and to growing in our trust in who He is as our Heavenly Father.
Blessings, Dear Ones, blessings.