As though it was a friend that was painstakingly selected and nurtured, I said a tough goodbye to the Nichols and Stone cherry table and chairs as they passed through the front door. They were moved out the day of property division, along with many other items that just weren’t as meaningful. It wasn’t just furniture to me. It was a place where I had fed my kids many meals. We had shared stories and laughter. While some moments shared there weren’t always pleasant, I would choose to remember the good times.
We were left with a big empty kitchen floor and bar top that seated three – yet there were four of us. Having meals together was sacred to me. How would I solve this, among all the other new challenges that presented themselves endlessly during this time of endless change? As in other times of need, I opted to pray earnestly for a functional table and chairs. And, as long as I was asking, it needed to be functional, as well as have great visual appeal in a home that was also being sold.
The next day I set out to find a replacement. I was drawn to a resell store I had heard about, in hopes the new find wouldn’t break a budget that was already stretched due to a divorce. When I walked in and described what I was looking for, the owner in surprise said, “We just had a table and chairs delivered that sounds exactly like what you want. It’s still in the back. Come take a look.” My expectant heart was nervous as I wondered if my search could really be this easy. When I saw the set, I was in disbelief. It was better than what I had hoped for or imagined. It was a bigger table, with seating for 8 instead of 6. Although it wasn’t cherry, the maple brownish red stained top passed as a close resemblance, and the black painted accents matched my décor perfectly. The price was exactly what I budgeted.
That was ten years ago. Many fond and precious times were had at this new gathering place in our next home where freedom birthed many new beginnings. It was a sign of provision and faithfulness to me each time I glanced at it or sat down at it to break bread. Over the years, the seats had become lovingly worn from the rivet marks of fancy jeans’ pockets. A few missing touches of black paint were barely apparent.
I recently decided to upgrade our kitchen area. With a reluctant spirit, I posted the table, chairs and matching bench for sale online. After a few hits from curious, but not serious contenders, I received a message of unquestionable intent. “If this isn’t sold, I’ll take it. May I pick it up tonight?” We quickly firmed up a plan. My throat had a lump and I unexpectedly became emotional, along with the relief to just be done. As promised, the new owner arrived with eagerness to take my friend that was originally a mere substitute – yet had turned out to be so much more.
As we carried it piece by piece out to her truck, I teared up. I asked her if she was a believer. She confidently said, “Yes I am.” That was the gateway into my story of how this wasn’t just furniture. It was a sign of God’s faithfulness and promise. She then shared that she was having a group of women from her church over the next evening, and when she saw this table, she was drawn to it after looking at countless others. This dear woman, who now felt eerily familiar to me, told me about the traditional Southern feast she would be cooking and serving as the first meal fitting for this table. I told her this made the ending and new beginning even sweeter. As a Southern girl who had grown up and filled her stomach on the very fried chicken and gravy and peach cobbler she was preparing for her guests, my heart was now full as well.
My journey of freedom is full of countless stories of faithfulness. I was compelled to share this one to give others hope. When we step into or are called into the unknown, fear can consume us. We naturally ask, “Can I make it work?” “Will I be able to do this on my own?” along with many “What if…?” questions that cause us even more unnecessary worry and stress.
Remember to just simply believe. Trusting our Provider frees us from worry and sets us on a path to discover and rest on the true and lasting faithfulness of our Promise Keeper.