My two boys are young, but I dream about a lot of things for them. I think about them following the Lord. I cry out a lot for their salvation. I cry out that they not struggle with the same besetting sins their father does. I dream about their wedding day. I dream about how they will look on that day when they make solemn covenant vows before the Lord to take a wife for life, no matter what. I dream about when my wife and I are old, fragile, nearing the time when we will be with the Lord, how my kids will react. Will they tenderly wait on us? Will I be able to give them graceful, strengthening words as I leave them behind. I dream about being a godly father for them and leading them in the path of righteousness. Weighty things indeed. Interestingly enough a lot of these thoughts happen at the dinner table. In the quiet of my heart I desire these things and silently pray to the Lord that He will grant me grace in these areas as I stare into their little faces.
Speaking of my dinner table, it is old. It was my grandmothers. This wouldn’t happen with IKEA furniture, but that’s another story. I remember the thousands of meals shared over it and I dream about the thousands to come with my kids. As I was thinking I was wondering about how the Lord must have felt as He broke bread with His disciples. Three short years, but many, many meals. I’ve heard it said somewhere that you really don’t know a man until you’ve eaten a bushel of salt with him. In other words, you really don’t know someone well until you’ve spent many intimate hours in fellowship over a simple meal.
In Acts 1:4, after Jesus’ resurrection, He appears to His disciples to comfort and strengthen their hearts. Scripture says that “while staying with them” he told His disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit from the Father. What is interesting is the Greek word for the English phrase “while staying with them” is the word synalizomenos. It is a compound word rich with meaning. Broken down to its basic elements syn (together) and alizo (to have salt, season with salt) literally means “to have salt together,” a phrase that carries with it friendship and fellowship on a very deep, rich, strong, and abiding level. It is no wonder that God describes His covenant of love with His people as a everlasting “covenant of salt” (Num. 18:19; Lev. 2:13; 2 Chron. 13:5). Mk. 9:50 says, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Col. 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” The imagery of salt with things like covenant, peace, grace, and love is clear.
No doubt the prodigal’s father “had salt” with his son (Lk. 15:11-32). Their relationship was salty, which made the betrayal all the more gut-wrenching. Judas also betrayed God. But he betrayed Him in an intimately hypocritical way. “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk. 22:48). Jesus knew deep love and He knew deep betrayal. What about my sons? Would my table always be open for them? What if in the deepest bond of love, where a whole bushel of salt had been shared, there was the deepest betrayal?
There is a great song out there that seems to paint the picture of the heart attitude I want to have toward my kids. I find in it not only the heart attitude I want toward my kids, but the heart attitude Christ has toward me. I am the wayward son.
I went the ways of wayward winds, in a world of trouble and sin. I walked a long and crooked mile behind a million rank and file. Forgot where I came from, somewhere back when I was young. I was a good man’s child.
‘Cause I lost some nameless things. My innocence flew away from me. She had to hide her face from my desire to embrace forbidden fire. But at night I dream she’s singing over me, “Oh, my child, Come on home, home to me, and I will hold you in my arms and joyful be. There will always, always be, a place for you at my table. Return to me.”
Wondering where I might begin I hear a voice upon the wind, she’s singing faint but singing true, “Son, there ain’t nothing you can do. But listen close and follow me and I’ll take you where you’re meant to be. Just don’t lose faith.”
So I put my hand upon the plow, wipe the sweat up from my brow, plant the good seed along the way as I look forward to the day when at last I see my Father run to me singing, “Oh, my child, Come on home, home to me, and I will hold you in my arms and joyful be. There will always, always be, a place for you at my table. Return to me, my child.”
Artist: Josh Garrels; Album: Home; Song: At The Table