"Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged,
hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings,
and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life."
Let me start out by saying that I am really struggling with this review. It is not so much that I didn't like the content of the book, because I whole-heartedly agree with it. It is not the writing style of the author, because she is very descriptive with her words and does a wonderful job of painting a picture in your mind. As I was discussing this review with my hubby and daughter (the actual blog's author) I finally came up with a summary of my problem with the book:
It is too upper middle class.
I think our society, at least the part that is portrayed in most media outlets, is too upper middle class.
Of course, I probably think this because I am NOT upper middle-class. Hubby and I have made some choices in our life (leaving his "steady income" job due to theological principles, me staying home to homeschool our children, having a large family as opposed to a smaller one, etc...) that have designated us as much more "lower" income than even the average "middle-class."
Most days I am ok with this. But not always.
When I watch an episode of some home improvement/design show and my house does not even begin to look like that...
Not a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
When I see my children, three of the four grown to adulthood, still enjoying to come home and be with hubby and I and each other...
That's a good day for acceptance of the place where I am at.
I really think the author of The Life-Giving Table has a heart for families and wanted to challenge others to invest time together...intentional time together around the table, feasting on food and each other and especially the LORD. However, I just couldn't get past the "upper middle classness" (sorry, I just can't find a better word to describe it) in order to actually enjoy the book.
And I hated that because I was looking forward to reading it.
I DO support the topic completely. But to be honest, I got bored with the book in places simply because it wasn't anything "new" for me since Hubby and I have tried to incorporate these ideas for many, many years now. But it was more than that.
I just kept imagining myself at a younger age, when my kiddos were small and we were self-supporting missionaries. If I had been reading this book as a newbie to the idea at that stage of my life, I would have cried.
Cried that I couldn't fulfill the topic the way her word pictures were drawing it in my mind.
Lack of money. Plain and simple.
As I read the book, the feeling that things had to be so "upper middle classish" just kept coming through.
I am sure the author did not mean this. In fact, there were moments she tried to stress the fact that it did not have to be a certain way. However, it just didn't feel that way as a reader.
Sorry, but that is just how I felt.
So, although I really like the topic, and the author was very sincere in her portrayal, I just can't give it above 3 stars.
Can I ask you a question?
"Is God all He says He is?"
If you're anything like me, a home-grown church kid, that question is pretty easy. "Yeah of course, He's GOD!". That's what we're suppose to say right?
Ok, so can I ask you another question then?
"Do you believe you are the amazing person you say you are?"
(Think about that real hard before you answer)
What if I told you that the answer you gave for the first question affects the way you answer the second? You're probably confused so let me explain myself.
Lots of times the way we view GOD can affect the way we view ourselves. If we believe GOD is an awesome being Who created all things and called them good (Genesis 1:31), then we'll believe that we are HIS good creations because HE made all things "good". But if we don't believe that GOD makes things "good" then we'll view ourselves as a mistake.
About a year ago, GOD started bringing to my attention a lie I had believed about myself my whole life. It's the one statement that almost all my insecurities hang on. The lie was:
"I am GOD's one exception"
I knew GOD was an amazing God who created all things good and that HE loved us beyond measure. But for some reason I believed that HE made an exception when it came to me.
GOD loves everyone unconditionally but me
GOD forgives everyone but me
GOD has a purpose for everyone but me
Do you see a pattern here? And the sad thing was, I lived it out! I would tell people all the time that GOD loves them and has a purpose for their life, all the while silently adding to myself "everyone but me that is".
One day, I can't remember exactly what I was doing, but I remember GOD spoke to me and said:
"Susan, if you believe that you are MY one exception in life, then you believe I have contradicted MY Word."
In The Bible in the book of John, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 emphasis added are mine). Jesus said GOD loved the whole world. Not just parts of it, not just a certain select few, the WHOLE WORLD. He also goes on to say that "The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Ben-Elohim [Hebrew for Son of God]." (vs 18 brackets are mine)
GOD revealed to me that when I believed that I was HIS one exception, in reality I was believing that GOD repudiated what HE said in the Bible. If I was going to preach to others that GOD loved them and that GOD had a plan for their life, I had to believe the same thing in regards to myself and stop condemning myself when HE already loves and forgave me.
I'm telling you this because ever since that moment I have discovered that all my insecurities are secret lies about GOD that the Devil has told me. When I stopped trying to fix myself with all the "self-help" rules I had learned, I began to see that all this was truly about GOD and HIS image, not mine.
Think about it, Who is the Devil's enemy?
Who is GOD's beloved?
If you had an enemy and you wanted to destroy them, you could do it one of two ways:
Attack them directly,
attack the things/people they love.
The devil can not directly attack GOD. HE is The Almighty and has already beat the devil in the ultimate battle against death (John 12:31-33) . So instead he'll attack those GOD loves because by causing us pain, he causes GOD's heart to break (Isaiah 63:9). He does this in many ways but one way is by telling us lies about ourselves which cause us to unconsciously doubt aspects about GOD, in turn, causing us to not believe HIM and ultimately turn away from HIM. Think about some of the lies we believe about ourselves and how they affect our thinking of Who GOD is:
I am not loved. GOD doesn't love.
I am useless. GOD makes useless things.
I am ugly. If we are made in HIS image, then GOD must be ugly.
Now, I am not saying that you are irrelevant and that your insecurities have nothing to do with you. Your fears and insecurities are very real and important to you and how you walk through life. I'm just suggesting that we're looking at this all wrong. Instead of focusing on how we feel, we should be asking ourselves "what is the ultimate battle here?"
So here's what I propose: pray that GOD would reveal to you one of the insecurities you have and ask HIM to reveal to you what that lie says about HIMSELF. Even if you feel like you don't have any insecurities, you still may be believing a lie about GOD that you don't realize you believe. It will be scary, asking GOD to reveal the truth about HIMSELF, maybe a truth you don't even realize. Believe me I know! But at the same time, when GOD reveals Who HE really and truly is, lives are changed and the devil flees (James 4:1-10)! Try it, and see what happens. Here are some suggestions on ways you can do that:
Spend time listening
Pray and ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF to you and then spend some time just listening. The Bible says that those who wait on The LORD will not be ashamed (Psalms 25). It will be a challenge, quieting your mind, but it will be rewarding.
Be alert and patient
GOD will answer you in HIS timing. It may not be immediate but it may be. GOD is not a god to be controlled or swayed. He will answer you in the way and time HE wants to answer you in. This may mean waiting a little bit so you can get to a point where you are truly listening, or so HE can answer you in a way that you'll know it was HIM speaking to you. Just be alert and patient. HE will answer if you're truly seeking (Deuteronomy 4:29). Which brings me to my next suggestion:
Don't expect a certain answer to be delivered a certain way
GOD does not always answer us in a booming voice from the heavens. Sometimes HE allows other things or people to speak for HIM. I remember one time GOD revealed a lie I had been believing by letting me literally speak it out loud! I was talking with a friend (and by talking, I mean I was talking she was simply listening not saying a word) and before I even knew what I was saying I heard myself say the lie I had believed and why I had even believed it! So don't expect an answer in a specific way. GOD sometimes likes to surprise HIS children!
Have some accountability
You can do this by asking someone, or a group of people, to pray for you and keep up with you during your time of searching. I would like to encourage you to leave a comment in this post so that I and others reading this can pray for you. You don't have to say anything specific, just that you've accepted the challenge. Also I encourage you to comment on other people's posts encouraging and praying for them! Please remember though that there are real people behind those comments and treat them with the kindness, love, and respect that Jesus offers to us all.
Are you ready? Nervous? Excited? Feeling a little bit of a lot of different emotions? Me too. I know the lie I'll be working on this week is "GOD can't fulfill me in my everyday longings and desires". Doesn't that sound selfish? So be praying that GOD will reveal to me how HE is the only Messiah and I am not. I'll be praying for you all too!
Blessings on your epic quest!
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