My wife and I have a tradition called Birthday Weekend. No matter what day of the week your birthday falls on, you get to celebrate your birthday the subsequent weekend. I’m not sure exactly when this tradition started, but we’ve stuck to it for several years now. Recently it was my wife’s birthday and we pronounced the biannual arrival of birthday weekend in our house. We were both excited to celebrate not just one day, but all weekend. I’ve learned that parties can always go a little longer in my opinion.
I said goodbye to a friend the other day who is moving out of California. We had this incredible conversation too. It was one of those good, heart to heart, deep outpouring of kindred spirits talks. The kind of dialogue you think only exists in movies where writers meticulously edit over and over again until it’s just right. Well, that might be stretching it, but it was a good conversation nonetheless. My friend reminded me of an important truth I think I had forgotten. “God is always for you,” he said.
I thought more about his statement after we parted ways. God is for you. Ever notice how you live differently when you think differently about God? Theology is never merely theoretical. The truth is, our lives change when our theology influences how we live. Believing God is for us has the power to do just that.
I like to coin my own phrases. My wife tells me this is very “Michael-Scott” of me (you know, the boss from the TV show The Office), but I do it anyway. One of my coined phrases is “There’s always room at my table.” I started saying that a few years ago. I guess it’s because there is something incredibly significant about sharing a meal with someone…and when people sit at my table, I just feel good about myself. Sometimes we serve food at church and I love seeing how many people we can fit around one table. When you think about it, there is something special happening when we share food and drink and invite others to join us. We open up our lives and give of nourishment, but we also give of ourselves. The whole ordeal is quite intimate. It’s a beautiful picture of the Christian life–a life of reckless hospitality. A life focused on giving and receiving.
Last summer I spent a few weeks in Ecuador. I quickly learned how giving and welcoming the Ecuadorian people are, and also how quickly you become family. During our stay, we took a couple of days to visit a small town on the beach. It was quaint, with unpaved roads, small buildings, and houses running throughout. Children played barefoot in the street. It only took a few minutes to walk through the entire town and the whole time you could hear the ocean crash upon the shore.
We stayed the weekend with a couple named Carlos and Jeanette. Carlos was an Ecuadorian and his wife, Jeanette, was from Georgia. They had been married for many years and most of their lives were spent in the states. Now, Carlos and Jeanette were both retired and they decided to move to Ecuador for their golden years. They had an incredible house that sat right on the beach on the edge of town. It was a two-story house, with views of the ocean no matter where you stood. Carlos built the house a few years earlier and had made trips back and forth from Georgia to Ecuador to supervise the construction and progress. I soon learned Carlos had a lot to teach us.