I’ve felt such a heaviness for the past few days, and I can’t for the life of me pinpoint why. I think that’s the worst part of it. To feel downtrodden even when from the outside in things look good. To be unable to name the reason for melancholy, it makes it all the more absurd. An unwelcome visitor to your happy home. I wonder if it will always be this way, while I exist in this body? Separated from joy that is so close I can taste it.
For a few days I’ve wanted to write something about the upper room. It’s been dancing on the periphery of my brain, waiting to be put down into words, yet unwilling to escape from the mental chamber keeping it captive. How could I speak of Heavenly things when my heart felt pushed into the dirty earth? Still feeling captive to my flesh, I knew I needed to write it anyway, if only to show myself I could.
I find it no coincidence that in Luke 22 Jesus plans the Passover meal venue, the upper room, and just prior to that, in Chapter 21, He says this.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.
It’s so easy to forget that there’s more for us than next month’s work schedule or a pending dental appointment for the children. Before you know it you’re focusing on the bank balance versus the pending bill stack, or you’re questioning the commitments you’ve plotted in your calendar. You find yourself worrying about the virus the household keeps passing around, or replaying that thing you said to so-and-so, that ridiculous comment you wish you could stuff back into your stupid, gaping mouth. We busy our thoughts with if it’s time to wash the linen, or what theme we should plan for the youngest child’s birthday party. We never once contemplate the upper room.
He has prepared a place. He’s gone ahead of us and made arrangements. A banquet is coming, the likes of which we have never seen, yet we busy ourselves with plans akin to dining at Burger King. The Lord is setting the table for a grand feast, and we are somehow content to catch the scraps of the world where we wait. We forget all about the upper room.
It’s like we have an invitation sitting on our bar. It’s mixed in with grocery store flyers, an exorbitant utility bill, and one of those card stock advertisements with a fake, brand new car key attached. It’s addressed in gold letters, sealed with a blood red stamp, and it’s just waiting to be opened. Each and every day we pass it by. It’s left unopened, forgotten, pushed to the bottom of a stack meant for the trash.
We pass it by in favor of our favorite Netflix series, or rushing to the kitchen table to argue angrily over homework, pressing a dry kiss and sideways hello to our spouse. Tired, worn thin and wore out. We pass the invitation for rest, and we pass it in favor of rush and hurry. We run towards the things of this world that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Have you noticed the things of this world bring us a heap of stress, yet we pursue them with vigor? We think, if only I can hit the deadline. If only I can pay this debt. I just gotta get the kids through school and get this mortgage paid down. Then, maybe things will settle down.
We’re always in eager anticipation, expecting a future of better things. We’re hoping in a time when we won’t struggle so much. We’re waiting for a time when we won’t be so tired, when finances won’t be so tight, or when raising kids will get easier. We cling to dreams of a brighter future with less stress and more bless. We trudge through our season, weary and wondering when we’ll find our better day. We pass by the dusty, forgotten invitation.
There has to be a better way! That’s what we say. It shouldn’t be this hard! We buy self help books, seek advice from a counselor, maybe even beg that lady on Oprah Winfrey’s channel to fix our life! We forget all about the upper room.
Here’s the secret. Here’s the thing we all forget. We don’t have to wait until the feast begins to partake of the hors d’oeuvres. He is preparing the banquet table, but until it’s time to be seated, we can remember that we already have a place set with our names on it. The best five star restaurant in NYC doesn’t compare, and even better, the worst dinner party we throw doesn’t matter. It all falls flat when set beside the upper room.
The invitation that awaits, it’s one that requires our RSVP, and by accepting our individual place of honor, we agree to walk out each day with an air of importance. We can pass through each day throwing off the anxiety of a fading world that falsely vies for our attention, and instead we can say, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to a party. I can’t be bothered by that at the moment. My mind is on the upper room.”
In my time of heaviness the past few days, I am reminded to hold tightly to my invitation. It promises a wonderful feast. I don’t have to falsely hope for better days here on earth. Instead I can know in my heart that better days will come. I can walk each moment, even as my flesh and heart may fail, in joy, knowing that I am a special guest, and a special seat waits for me. Nothing much matters compared to that. He’s preparing a place.
Children get sick and the truck needs new tires, but He’s preparing a place. I feel heavy, sometimes for no reason at all, but I am invited. The world could hate me, but I’d still be invited. Karen could roll her eyes in my direction, and the whole table could talk about me after I walk away. It doesn’t matter. My Father has set a place for me at His table. Bye, Felicia.
But seriously. All the ridiculous things that try to pull me away. The unimportant tasks that try to overwhelm me. The minuscule happenings that attempt to shake me. The inconveniences that mar my day, or the mistakes that make up my past… they can’t hold a candle to what lies ahead. The upper room.
Lord, when my mind wanders to places it doesn’t need to go, remind me of the upper room. When I place my hope in anything other than you, remind me of the upper room. When I’m hurting, remind me of the upper room. When I’m happy and everything is peachy, remind me of the upper room. When I put too much stock in this fast food life, remind me of the banquet you have lavishly prepared. May I never forget the invitation that requires my focus even now. Keep my thoughts always on the upper room. I know that at your table I will never thirst, and most importantly, I will be filled.