Eight! The world record for number of rattlesnakes held in one’s mouth at one time is eight! Which is crazy! I mean, I could see six rattlesnakes. Maybe seven – tops. But eight? That’s just dangerous! Did you know that the world record for fastest 100-meter hurdles wearing swim fins is 22.35 seconds? Or that the most spoons ever balanced on one’s face is 17? Clearly, I have been spending a little too much time on the web.
So why would anyone want to hold the world record for most rattlesnakes held in your mouth? Or the highest number of spoons balanced on your face? My guess is significance. We all want to want to leave our mark. We all want to be known. To feel like we are unique. And that we are important. Why else would we endure 37 weeks of little league sports for a plastic trophy worth $2?
I was thinking about this the other day. I was reflecting on Psalm 23. And I came to that verse that says – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5
Up until this point, Psalm 23 is all about green pastures and still waters. About the comfort of the Good Shepherd. And the protection of His rod and staff. But now, the Psalmist turns to enemies. I love that he does this. The Psalmist has known failure. He has lost. His life has not been easy. And he has enemies. This is not a psalm of pious hopes and false platitudes. This psalm is real.
Especially, if we consider the Hebrew word he uses for enemies, Tsarar. It means affliction or oppression. Specifically, it refers to those things we struggle with internally. Things like insecurity and confusion and addiction. Things like loss and fear and weakness. It’s right in the middle of these enemies that God prepares a table before us.
The location is crucial. The Psalmist says that the banquet is prepared BEFORE US! Not before Him. Where the grass is green, and the waters are still. And all enemies are vanquished. Rather, God throws a lavish party in the midst of the mess. God meets us right where we are. Even in this season of pandemic. We have always known insecurity and fear and loss. Now, they are here all the more. And right in the middle of it is God’s banquet table.
And the host is significant. Our Creator, the designer, and sustainer of the universe, the giver of life, the source of all hope and joy and love, has prepared a feast for you! Why? Because you matter to Him! Not because you can hang 17 spoons on your face or run the 100- meter hurdles in swim fins. But because God made you. He had you in mind from long ago. He knitted you together in your mother’s womb. He gave you life. And ever since, God’s Spirit has been at work within you. And that makes us significant!
That is something I need to hear right now. And it’s something that our children and our grandchildren need to hear. And it’s something that our neighbor needs to hear right now. As this season of Pandemic drags on, it is becoming easier and easier to feel insignificant. To feel powerless. And afraid. Author Elizabeth Gilbert says that of all the species on earth, human beings are the most anxious. Because we have the greatest ability to envision our future. How easy it is for us to project the suffering around us onto some imagined future for us. What if, instead of focusing on what might happen, we focus on the banquet table before us? What if, rather than dwell on our vulnerabilities we were to dwell on the presence of the Shepherd and our significance to Him?
Today, I invite you to sit down with God and take delight in the goodness that He has set before you. That you may know His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.