Fall is my favorite time of year to gather at the table. Magazines and storefronts display pumpkin-shaped tureens and dried bunches of wheat stalks. Our Facebook feeds fill with a million ways to serve turkey, and we wonder if Aunt Margaret is going to make her famed squash casserole again at Thanksgiving.
I do most of my gathering around a long farmhouse style table my Dad built for me five years ago. It sits underneath the huge oak tree in my backyard. Chandeliers hang overhead, and every fall the oak leaves fall gently, decorating the table with brilliant color like confetti. I love the sound of those leaves as they rustle above and crunch under foot. I love the sound of chili simmering in a pot in the kitchen and a fire warming the room. I love the sound of laughter and warm conversation.
This fall, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen. Just listen. Rather than focusing what’s going on top of the table, focus on what’s happening all around it.
In Latin, “obey” actually means to listen to and serve. Isn’t that beautiful? The Lord loves it when we listen. And listening to His tender voice equips us to listen well to others and serve well. It really honors both God and each other!
Part of obedience for me is to live into the way God made me and at the heart of who I am is a people gatherer.
One of my most beautiful moments is when I get to set the table before people gather. I feel the anticipation and excitement building, and it’s when I do my first listening at the table. I ask God to move my own heart toward loving others as He loves us. I listen and ask God to help me see the needs of the people at my table. And I always thank God for every place setting and the person that will fill that seat, and ask that we would experience God in a great way as we gather.
Once everyone has gathered, I share a few words before we sit down at the table. I share my hopes for our time together. And I always share this one sentence: I hope we do more listening than talking at the table.
I find that in listening to others we are forging good relationships with love. To listen is to be present with one another, to listen to understand and to maybe hear how someone’s story is the same or different from ours. Listening keeps us humble and it opens places for forgiveness and reconciliation. Remember listening is like an act of obedience to God. Listening helps us see places we might encourage and when we do speak, we might speak words of life to someone.
May I encourage us this month at IF:Table to do more listening than talking. Ask good questions and then listen to each other. Because through listening we are obeying, and that listening starts to look a lot like love. Let’s love God and love others well in our listening at the table.
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue… James 1:19 MSG