Reservation for One

dinner-table

Who would ever want to be alone in a place like this?

For a guy, making a reservation at a nice restaurant is customary when trying to pursue a beautiful maiden.

This year, I’ve been preoccupied with a pursuit of my own, dining at my fair share of restaurants as a result. A specific episode comes to mind  from the early stages of my relationship with my lovely lady, Heidi.

We had been on a few dates before I was faced with a critical decision: should I take her out on Valentine’s Day? When I reasoned that seizing the day was best, I scurried to make reservations at any restaurant, quickly realizing that most were completely booked. All’s well that ends well, though; we are engaged to be married and currently planning our wedding.

When making that reservation and others that followed, I made them for two, as you would expect. It would have been weird had I made them for one; come to think of it, have you ever heard of anyone calling a restaurant to request one seat?

While this may be incongruent with the dynamics of dating, there are places in our lives where God reserves a table for one. Psalm 76:7 offers, “It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry” (NIV).

The Bible has much to say about fear, doubtless because it is man’s natural tendency. God, however, makes it clear that he has an exclusive right to be feared; any other fear that grips our hearts is an encroachment on his place in our lives.

Today, I’m going to talk about my one of my own fears. Not Peter’s, not Paul’s, but my own. One of the reasons the Bible has so much to say about fear is because it has to be exposed and addressed. Having fear in secret will serve as a silent killer, and today, I’m shining some additional light on one that has gripped me for quite a while.

I grew up in the inner city of Detroit. My father has been in prison since I was three years-old (I’m now 27), leaving my mother, who battles with schizophrenia, to raise me. There were times when our home was very unstable, so much so that I would come home from school to find our belongings on the curb. Having family in close proximity was a saving grace, but definitely not a cure-all.

My family has always had each other, but money seems to have always eluded us. In a lot of ways, maybe this made us closer. What I observed, however, was that not having means contributed to a lot of our strife, or at least mine. A disposition of heart began to develop towards money based on all of my experiences, chief among them happening during my college years.

I had just completed my junior year, and was faced with a financial challenge. My student aid was unable to cover a portion of my balance, leaving me unable to register for classes in the fall or secure a housing assignment. My college friend, Mike, had just moved into an apartment across the city and graciously offered for me to stay. There was a catch, though; the apartment was a studio that would be shared with two other people!

This presented some obvious challenges, but I actually have fond memories of this season. There was one day, however, over which had been cast a dark shadow in my heart and mind.

It was the middle of the summer, and there seemed to be no resolution in sight with regards to my school balance and completing my final year. I happened to be home alone on this particular day, and there were some things that I needed, so I headed to the nearby Dollar Tree. Grabbing my few items, which maybe even included toilet paper, I took my place in the check-out line. Once it was my turn at the register, the unthinkable happened. After giving the young woman my debit card, she swiped a few times with no success. My trip to the dollar store ended with me not being able to leave with any of the items that I needed.

I was greatly embarrassed and also dejected, but the prevailing emotion I had that day was anger. My self-talk after walking out of the store went something like this: “I hate poverty and I will never be broke again a day in my life.”

What happened that day crystallized what had been loose fragments prior. Because money was so hard to come by, I told myself that I should do whatever I can to preserve what I have. I was a man on the run, and my pursuer was poverty. Simply put, I was afraid of being broke.

This fear has come to a head of late. Faced with my impending marriage and call to pastoral ministry, feelings that may have been dormant have become quite pronounced. I was talking to a friend recently and before long, I found myself in tears, confiding, “I just don’t want to be broke.” What I’ve had to address, as a result, are the implications and source of that fear.

A fear of lack hinders any heart from being generous. Proverbs 11:24-25 states, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (ESV). I can truly say, and others would testify, that I’ve been held back because of my conflict of heart. While I may want to give, my fear inhibits me in so doing. According to God’s word, withholding only leads to more lack.

Even with all of the contributing factors, albeit justified or not, it really comes down to one thing: my fear of lack is in competition with my fear of God. God, however, has reserved for himself an exclusive right to be feared in our lives — my life is no exception.

The writer of Hebrews beautifully weaves the concepts of fear, God and money, saying:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (13:5-6 ESV)

When it comes to money, neither you nor I have any reason to fear. The word “fear” used in Psalm 76:7 is the Hebrew word “yare.” This word is also used in Psalm 34:9, when David writes, “Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack” (ESV). The thread of unbelief I’ve allowed to influence my perspective does not have to be my lot, because he is our heavenly Father who provides for us, and his word does not return to him void.

I’m encouraged today, because the Lord has helped me by exposing this fear and addressing it himself. By God’s grace, I hope you’ll find the same encouragement.

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~ by christianballenger on October 31, 2016.

3 Responses to “Reservation for One”

  1. Beautiful writing! I will share this with Ryan also. And congratulations to you and Heidi, I had no clue you were even dating!

  2. This is just what I needed to read today. Well written and right on point!

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