2024 FPC Directory Updates

Taste and See

Posted by First Presbyterian on

Here's the next installment in our Immeasurably More blog series.


(Author’s note: The story you are about to read happened last summer. I had not thought about it in a long time; but when Pastor Charles preached on Luke 14 a few weeks ago, I opened my Bible to the passage and saw my handwritten note in the margin: “7-20-20 – Banquet for my house painters.” I knew right then that I wanted to share this with our church family. Our theme for Lent was Lost and Found. In a sense, I was “found” that day. God is good.)

“Do you mind if I take a nap here?” the young boy asked, pointing to the cool fescue grass shadowed by our towering pecan tree. “It’s like lying on a soft blanket,” he explained as he swept his hands over the cushy lawn. Amused, I told him to go for it, and we had a brief discussion about the value of a good nap on a hot summer day. As he reclined for his siesta, the boy’s father, grandfather and uncle labored in the searing sun painting the exterior of our house, bricks and all.

As the dog days of July sauntered on during the three weeks of the painting project, I made quick entrance and exit to and from my house, desperately trying to avoid the heat and conserve the A/C. I only communicated with the painters when they had a direct question. Otherwise, they were outside, and I was in. The little boy and I, however, developed a bit of a rapport as he thrived on showing me each day how he had helped on the job – washing brushes, digging soil away from the base of the house, washing the windows and doors.

Towards the end of the project, we had a dilemma about which color to paint our brick columns that lined both our driveway and our neighbor’s yard. After discussing it with neighbor Bonnie (who has much more design sense than I do), we settled on a plan. However, I had an appointment and could not relay that plan to the painters. Bonnie volunteered to talk to them. Later, she texted me and said that she had found one of the painters named Joe in my backyard, and that she had communicated to him what we wanted. “I hope Joe was the right guy to talk to,” she texted. It was at that moment that I realized that the only name I knew was the head painter, who had not been on the site since day one. I had brought the men milkshakes and Slurpees on a couple of hot afternoons, but I had never become acquainted enough to learn their names. I didn’t even know the name of the boy with whom I’d become so chummy.

I was convicted almost immediately about my lack of personal interest in these hard-working men who were showing up daily to beautify my home. In one short encounter, Bonnie had learned the name of one of my painters, and I had not, in two weeks, put to memory a single name. Never one to let me off the hook, the Lord instantly began working on my heart, gently chastising me and showing me the sin of my omission. Then one morning while reading Scripture, I came upon Luke 14:12,13:

Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, yours brothers or relatives or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’”

Before my eyes lifted from the pages of the Word, I knew instantly what the Holy Spirit was asking of me – to provide a banquet for the painters; to share of myself with them. To invite in those who had been outside. It would give me a chance to get to know them, and possibly even allow me to share a bit of His love with them. My prayers about this luncheon over the next several days were borderline comical:

Me: “I’ll go get a big Chick Fil A tray.”
God: “Is that what you’d feed your friends if you invited them to lunch?”
Me: “Okay, okay, I’ll cook for them and serve it on the back porch!”
God: “Would you ask your friends to eat outside in the 100-degree weather?”
Me: “Okay, I’ll serve them in the dining room, but what if they get paint on my newly-covered chairs?”
God: “You have extra fabric. Stop compromising.”

All the logistics with the Host of all Hosts settled, I proceeded to call Isaac, the head painter, with my luncheon invitation. He was taken aback to say the least, marveling that in all his years of painting, no one had ever invited his crew to a meal in their home. We agreed upon the following Thursday, which would be close to the end of the project at my house, and he let me know that there would 6 or 7 painters attending. It would be a celebration of a job well done!

The following Tuesday, I was at lunch with a friend and politely ignored the incessant rings and dings of my phone. It was not until I got into my car after lunch that I realized the calls and texts were from Isaac! He said that he and the crew were at my house, but no one was answering the door. Horrified, I called him immediately to remind him that the lunch date was for Thursday. We had a good laugh, as he explained that his men had all scrubbed down and cleaned up in expectation of entering my home. After they sat out front for a while, Isaac had realized that he had put the wrong day on his calendar!

When Thursday came, and the first few familiar faces presented themselves at my door, all smiles, I was energized and ready to serve the “banquet” I had prepared. True to my inborn nature, I had set the table for 8 (ensuring that everyone, including myself, had a seat) and had even written down a few questions for discussion. (This is how I roll – I can’t help it!)  I had envisioned myself sitting among them, conversing and sharing. However, the doorbell kept ringing as more and more painters filed in! We squeezed 12 around the dining table and another 4 around the island in my kitchen. Every time I would begin to sit down, more would appear, hungry not only for food, but quite possibly for the air conditioning as well!

Because the Lord was in charge, we had enough food, but my ideas of meaningful conversation were blighted at every turn. One older gentleman at the table was watching a soccer game on his iPhone, volume at full pitch and angled so that others could also watch. A few of my attempts at side conversations were pleasant but yielded little fruit. The men were gracious and kind to say the least; but my agenda never got off the ground.

God: “I asked you to feed the painters, Susan. That’s all I asked. The rest of the agenda was your idea, not mine.”
Me: “But surely you wanted me to tell them about You while they were here.”
God: “You did tell them about me; you just didn’t need words.”

As I was doing the dishes (yes, the Lord reminded me that I would have used my good blue and white dishes if hosting my friends!), I was brought to tears by the realization of their eagerness. These painters had come two days early for the banquet! And when they came on the “right” day, they showed up with double the number expected. Oh, that we would be so enthusiastic to taste of the Lord, to enjoy the comforts he offers at the Table He has prepared for us.

As I loaded the dishwasher, I couldn’t help but contemplate my own eagerness. How often do I crave to enter His presence and sit at His feet, even to the point of showing up early? How often do I desire to be filled with His Spirit the way those men desired a hearty meal?  And what about the Ultimate Banquet that Jesus refers to when we will sup with Him at the table He has prepared for us in Heaven? Am I scrubbing myself clean and getting ready for the big feast? Or am I sluggishly and half-heartedly knocking at His door, not really hungry at all?

“Lord,” I prayed, sudsy water dripping from my elbows, “ready me for your Banquet. Show me how to live by Your agenda instead of my own. Show me how to better invest in the lives of people. I don’t want to be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous; I just want you to know my name and recline with me in the cool grass.” Amen.