I am in a season of life where I am learning to walk welcomed. The Lord has been gracing me with a reoccurring lesson, and I can hear His voice saying: You have a seat at the table, my dear. Like literally no joke, the softness of His voice and presence is instilling in me the fact that He has a feast prepared for me. Now before I lose you, I want to tell you up front the point I am getting at here. You have a purpose and God has a plan for you.
We ALL go through life searching for our purpose or for “God’s plan”. We preach Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” If you’re like me, you read that and think “Oh thank God! He cares about my future and I’ll be prosperous and hopeful and have happiness drape my entire life”. Then the unexpected hits, am I right? You lose a job, you switch your major (talking to myself here, by the grace of God I’ll finally graduate in the Spring), your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, your parents decide to move to a different state, your spouse cheats on you, your kids go wayward, you get the point. Then you’re like okay, what’s the freaking deal here? I thought His plan for me was to prosper me, not harm me?? Or maybe it isn’t disastrous at all. For me personally it’s about taking the next step after I graduate. Will I get a job in TV? Will I get married? Will I write a book? Will I be a bartender forever (God bless…)? Will I be a missionary?
So, before I try a sloppy attempt at telling you what God’s personal plan for your life is, I am going to tell you a silly story that your homegirl Brooke Maratta was the main character of. It starts off with my inability to know the difference between two restaurants…
One night, my friends invited me to dinner at Olive Garden. I don’t really know how or why or what the heck is wrong with me, but I showed up at Red Lobster…. To give myself some credit here, they are across the street from each other in my hometown, so I am not that dumb. I must’ve been so busy that day that I wasn’t really paying attention to the dinner plans. I am sure that has happened to more people than just me… right??? You know when you are so busy and someone is trying to make plans with you in advance, so you politely agree but at the forefront of your mind is a complete different task or agenda? That’s what happened to me that night. I got to the restaurant and told the hostess that I was meeting a party of 4 and that they should already be here by now. I told her the name and she says “Ma’am, I’m sorry we don’t have that name on the list”. Okay… I work in a restaurant, so I instantly think “this chick doesn’t know what she’s doing… I know my friends are here!” So, I took matters into my own hands and searched each section of the restaurant. Un- freakin-believable. My friends must’ve ditched me because I could NOT find them anywhere in the restaurant. Maybe the time changed? Maybe they already ate? Maybe they cancelled and didn’t have the courtesy to tell me? So, I texted my friends and asked them “What the heck is going on?? I am at Red Lobster and you aren’t here!”. “Lol” they replied, “Brookie… we are at Olive Garden, not Red Lobster. No one ever said Red Lobster.” It’s funny now, but in the moment, I am like how the heck did I miss that? Did I make it up? I must’ve been half checked in the conversation when we made plans and jumped to conclusions. I never actually verified or checked in with my friends about the plans.
When I got to Olive Garden, I told the hostess my name, she escorted me to my friend’s table, and my friends had a seat saved and ready for me! We laughed about my silly mishap, we talked about how awkward I was walking into Red Lobster like a complete noob, and we had a wonderful Italian meal full of laughter and fun!
Some of you may already know where I am going with this… hang tight… this applies to you.
The Wrong Restaurant Syndrome: (I completely made this phrase up. When it reaches Wikipedia, make sure you define it as “coined by Brooke Maratta”)
When it comes to God’s plan in your life, perhaps you are in the “wrong restaurant”. In the wrong restaurant, you search everywhere for your people, your reservation, your seat, your date, your table… then you get frustrated. You say to yourself “un-freakin-believable” some friends they are… or some God He is… I thought He was going to prosper me. But the moment you realize you were in the wrong restaurant and you enter the right one, you cue a sigh of relief. You are almost treated like royalty am I right? You walk in, the hostess greets you (they actually know what they are doing), and they escort you right to your table, but not only to your table but to your seat. For me personally, I just got out of a season of life where I was like, “okay God, this is what I want. I think this would be great, and I know You love me, so You want my plans to succeed!” To put it plainly… I was in the wrong flipping restaurant. I didn’t check in with Him, I just assumed. I assumed that this is what He had planned for my life, and when I found out it wasn’t I was left feeling unloved and upset. Surely this can’t be the God that loves me, I am depressed and left feeling empty. Did plans change and He didn’t have the courtesy to tell me? Did He forget about me? Did I miss God’s plan??
I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t switch up plans last minute, He doesn’t trick you, or disinvite you because you aren’t qualified, He isn’t out to harm you or frustrate you. He isn’t out to get you. Perhaps, it is us. We aren’t checking in with Him, listening to His voice, asking Him what the plans are. If he is taking you out to dinner wouldn’t you trust that He is going to take care of the reservation, the seating arrangements, and not to mention the bill? I am learning that when you are where you need to be, like truly where you need to be, because you asked Him and asked what He has for you… Jeremiah 29:11 swings into full effect. I am in a season of life where I am timidly approaching my seat at the table. I am embarrassed that I was at the “wrong restaurant”, I am nervous to sit down next to Him, I am worried I am overdressed or underdressed, I am worried if I’ll have enough money to pay for my food, and I am worried that He is upset with me for not listening. Are there enough seats? Should I have just gone home and hid?
No, no, no my love. I have set apart this feast for you. I see your heart, and I know your appetite. I know your likes and your dislikes. Order what you want, I have everything you could ever need or want. And don’t worry about the bill, I already paid that in full. You have a seat at the table. It’s not anyone else’s, I didn’t merely squeeze you in. It’s your seat. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy every delight set before you.
I want to leave you with this, your Holy and Heavenly Father does not want you lost in the wrong story, He doesn’t want you searching around for your seat at the table, and He doesn’t want you to feel abandoned. He loves you, and He waits patiently for you at the table He has set before you! Don’t get lost in the wrong restaurant, check in with Him and see where He is at! He’s a gentleman; He won’t cancel on you.
Jeremiah wrote to the people of Judah about his struggle (same guy who told us about God’s great plans for us in Jeremiah 29:11):
“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So, it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.”