(c)2008 Eileen Rife
While I sat at the kitchen table sipping tea during my morning devotions, I was distracted by the dents, stains, and scratches on the wooden surface. My mind traveled to Sams Wholesale Club where only days ago I had admired a brand new contemporary-style oak table and chairs that would look grand in my eat-in kitchen. I sighed and forced my attention back to my Scripture reading. We weren’t in a financial position to spend money on furniture. Maybe I could just refinish the surface.
As I read Deuteronomy, chapter six, I lingered on verses 5-9: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
A sudden warm awareness washed over me. This wooden table passed down to our family from my husband’s mother played a vital role in fulfilling the admonition of this Scripture. How often we had gathered around it to participate in family devotions. When the girls were little, they would color pictures to illustrate the Bible reading for that day. While I tried my best to scrub stray marks from Grandma’s maple drop-leaf table, I could never completely eliminate the stains. I remembered other occasions when we would roll out dough and cut out Christmas ornaments to attach to gifts or give to neighbors. Some of those cookie-cutter marks still stated their presence on Grandma’s hand-me-down table. When we raised money to go to India on a family mission trip, we crafted wreaths and candy trains to sell. The table still bore glue gun and wire marks. Home school science experiments gone amuck also plagued the table top.
Now immersed in my reminiscence, I leaned in to scrutinize the surface. Sure enough, there were glass rings from company we’d invited in over the years, some of whom were unsaved family members, friends, and work associates. Then I zeroed in on my husband’s place at the table. Just that morning, he had set his oatmeal bowl on one of the Christmas cards we had saved so that we could pray for the sender. When I picked up the card, I noticed part of the back was stuck to the table. Grabbing the dishrag, I scrubbed at the spot. While the paper easily dislodged, the ink from the backing remained indelibly imprinted on the maple surface. I smiled, no longer troubled by my splotched and marred table, but warmed by the realization that this family heirloom had hosted many a stranger, hurting soul, and our own children who are now faithfully serving the Lord around the world with our grandchildren.
I sat back down at the table and ran my hand over Deuteronomy, chapter six. I chuckled as I realized that we had fulfilled the Lord’s admonition to write down His commands, maybe not on the doorframes of our house, but on our kitchen table. Our love for the Lord was etched all over its surface and I had never stopped to appreciate it. But you know, if I have anything to say about it, this table that expands to accommodate twelve people comfortably will be around for many more years to pass on His love to my children’s children, as well as to others He brings our way.