My husband assembled the table and chairs of my choosing. I put most of the chairs in the basement so I could situate the dining room table against the wall. My plan was to pull it out when company visits.
My husband asked why I didn’t put the table in the center of the room. He thought I was bowing to the old habits of a tiny house I no longer call home. I thought I was prudent to save the space, even as I impatiently wondered how to furnish it so I could finally host a family meal. If I pulled the table out, we’d have to walk around it whenever we passed through the room. It would be better to find some other way to use the space.
But God tells us, Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. Isaiah 54:2, ESV
I imagine the verse is directed at women because verse 1 addresses a “barren one,” but verse 2 may be aimed at the men. I don’t know enough about Old Testament culture to know whose job or decision it was to widen the tents, but still, I picture women like me, eyeing the stakes and ropes that have penned them in.
Perhaps, they chose the boundaries for their walls logically. Perhaps habit drove them. Perhaps they’ve been so used to the way things have been they’ve forgotten the way things could be. They may be unsatisfied with other areas of their lives–they long for children–but with this limited space, they have made their peace.
Yet God says, “Widen the tent. Do not hold back. Use the blessings I’ve already given you to prepare for those that are yet to come.”
This same God looks at my dining room, and through my husband, asks audibly, “Why not put the table in the center of the room?”
He asks because he sees I’m holding back. I have made peace with the way things are. I have forgotten they could be so, so much better. I don’t even believe, when he first tells me, that I am missing out. I am sitting at a table against the wall when God has invited us to use it all, everything he gave us.
I take the leap of faith. I pull the table away from the wall. I stop holding back. I circle the table with chairs and suddenly the empty room is full of invitations to sit, to linger, to be fed. Seated there, I can see all the space from which I have kept myself.
I see how I did something similar, working in the confined space of a day job because I had convinced myself it was logical. Because I was afraid to use the income God had blessed us with through my husband’s job. Because I was in the habit of spending a certain amount, passing my days a certain way. What an epiphany it was to realize I could make the choice to widen my tent, to invite in the writing dream.
I see that I also often sit at the perimeter of love and grace and peace and joy, wanting, afraid to use it up, afraid to stretch it out and sit in the shelter it provides.
And from here, I see I’m not the only one at the edge of the room. I’m not the only one limited by boundaries that are, in fact, no more set in place than a tent wall.
But Christ set a place at the table for us, he pulled out chairs smack dab in the center of it all. He invites us to come, to sit, to know what it is to lack no good thing, to widen the walls of our tents and watch him fill it all. Here, we shall not want.
What boundaries have you lived with, only to find out later they weren’t as fixed as you thought? In what areas might God be calling you to expand your tent?
This post was brought to you by: a) my dining room table, and b) the June 9th Five Minute Friday prompt “want.” But, I didn’t write it in five minutes, and I didn’t write it until after the next week’s prompt had already come out. In fact, they’ll publish a new prompt tomorrow. Still, the FMF community is inspiring and supportive, and if you’re not already familiar with them, check it out here!