What YOU Bring to the Table

*This poem is a sequel to my previous poem “What I Bring to the Table.” I recommend reading that first*

God, there’s another obstacle that keeps me from your table.
I seem unable to accept your invitation
And there are multiple reasons.
It’s not just my insecurity, or cause I doubt that I am worthy.
Honestly it’s YOUR worthiness that sometimes has me wondering.
Can you handle all my hungering? Do you really deserve my hope?

Cause this sometimes seems so silly,
Your promises of provision.
Overabundant nutrition if I meet you in your kitchen.
They feel like phantom feasts, Ghosts of Christmas Dinners Past,
And maybe that puts me in the place of Scrooge but where are the huge plates of joy?
Where are the heaping bowls of soul satisfaction?
Why is celebration so damn hard when your table is supposed to be so damn good?

You have given me so much
And yet how can I forget that you when you set the table,
The thing I want most never seems to be there?
It is a glaring absence, a painful omission.
And there’s attrition in my soul, caused solely by this deficiency.
Or at least that’s how it feels to me.
Maybe I’m being too picky but I still feel hungry!
Even after the main course, soups, salads and entrees,
I still gaze longingly at the empty space where you did not place my heart’s great desire.

Why can’t I place an order?
Why can’t this be like a restaurant where you’d just give me what I want?
Why do YOU decide what food I get fed?
Why is my daily bread never the thing I want best?

But I guess the book of Job shows that you give no answers to “why” questions…
And YOU have some tough ones pointed in MY direction:

Bruce, why do you feel entitled to any blessing that you choose?
Why do you accuse me of being stingy when I’ve proven my love and loyalty?
Why doesn’t your jaw drop at my non-stop hospitality?
Bruce, why don’t you trust me?

Honestly, Father, those questions are harder to answer than the ones I asked you.
It’s hard to justify my bitterness in the midst of this abundance.
Surrounded by good gifts my petulance seems petty.
And yet. . .you’re patient with me,

You don’t shame my pain,
You don’t blame me for the tension of contradictory emotions.
Cause I simultaneously feel genuinely grateful and painfully betrayed.
Both are at play.
And there’s a place for both in your presence.

You are a good Father.
You give freely from your table
And though there’s mystery why some blessings are being held back
“The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing”
I don’t get how all this fits, and it’s a painful unknowing,
But your track record is worthy of my trust.

Plus, do I really want our relationship to operate like a restaurant?
Could I actually afford a single thing on the menu?
I have no moral capital.
I’m too deep in debt to make any demands.
I come with hands empty, money wasted worshiping at other altars that always disappoint.
Isaiah 55 points not just to your generosity but to my tendency
of spending money on what is not bread and my labor on what does not satisfy.
I have used your many blessings as offerings to other gods,
I’ve sat at the table of idols, given them gifts that you gave me first.
But they didn’t deliver and my thirst still burns.
So I return to your table once more.

I am not a wealthy patron and you are not my waiter.
YOU wield the power.
And you still choose to serve me.
You still fill my belly with high quality food,
Include me in your family and forget my infidelity.
In the face of such mercy, I can handle the mystery.

And maybe all your blessings are pointing to something fuller,
Foreshadowing a greater feast that you’ve promised is on its way.
Maybe your table today is actually the “Ghost of Christmas Dinner Future”,
Like a blockbuster trailer, stirring up our hunger for the feature length film.
And when that Forever-Masterpiece comes. . .
I won’t be longing after the crumbs of some humdrum desire,
Won’t be bitter that the trailer didn’t satisfy.
When I finally see you face-to-face,
I won’t waste mental space counting the blessings that you didn’t give.

Trust only matters in the midst of mystery,
Isn’t needed in times of certainty.
And maybe the meal I long for is right around the corner
Or maybe my hunger needs to be reshaped.
Regardless, I come with open hands for whatever blessings are mine to receive.
I believe, Lord. . .but help my unbelief.