Feet Under The Table
I was in Ph.D. studies at Virginia Tech when the Chairman of the Sociology Department asked that I teach a summer class on the "Sociology of Poverty."
When the textbook was given to me it only took a cursory look before I commented that I did not need the book to teach the course. I had grown up in Appalachia, which was the pocket of poverty in America in those years. What I had seen was etched into my mind and heart so powerfully it affects me to the present.
In fairness, our family would have been considered needy by scholarship standards. But books are not always accurate in the individual analysis. Mom and Dad were industrious and from hard-working families. The farm of 33 acres with an old frame house had been purchased by Mom and Dad for $600. Dad was a preacher, carpenter, sawmiller, painter, farmer and fix-it person. Mom was a terrific cook, seamstress, household manager - including disciplinarian of nine children.
Dad and his brother owned a sawmill and lumber gradually came to build a new home. Mom managed the farm chores because Dad was also the pastor of a country church. The yield of food on the farm was complimented by staples purchased from the store and an occasional box of cereal. Older children picked fruit from trees and bushes in forest and fields and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The base of our home was filled with hundreds of jars of canned potatoes, beans, squash, jams and jellies and the smokehouse preserved meat in plenty.
I should add that with life being so challenging Mom and Dad were faithful in tithing.
It is true that over the mountains there were families not so blessed. The ugliness of poverty in my native roots was so powerful that for a number of my adult years I refused to even visit the mountains where I grew up.
You must know that the table of our home was never without food. No child in our family ever went to bed hungry. No one in our household lacked clothing to be warm in the winter. We did not have the toys of the rich, but we had plenty, felt blessed and the love of God was in our home.
Dinner in our home was served country style. Several vegetables, a meat, and bread. Bountiful portions. Steaming hot. The dessert would follow the meal. Breakfast was more bountiful than we can afford with a modern budget.
When everything was ready, Mom would have someone announce in the house and outside that the table was prepared. I remember a few times that reading a book or wanting to play with a friend made food less important. I sat down to the table with one foot under the table and another out - as if ready to run.
Dad would say in a firm voice: "Son, put your feet under the table and act like you appreciate the meal that has been prepared for you!"
As a pastor, my heart is too often broken by folks who play church. They come to the table with one foot out. They never come to Bible study. They come in late for worship. They refuse leadership training or to develop strong relationships with accountability. Sometimes they leave the table of our fellowship feeling like they did not get the best.
The truth is they did not get the best. They kept one foot out... uncommitted... dreaming of other times and places, wanting to be served without their heart coming under discipline, hanging on to their "want to's", instead of walking in humility to serve the Body.
My prayer is that in this season of unrest in America and the rest of the world that you will put both feet under the table. Lukewarm is not the place to be in these times. Focus on "me" will engender a spirit of poverty.
Rather, let us together sit at the table and be filled with the Holy Spirit that we may produce a great harvest for Our Lord. The table is spread at Covenant Church. Come to dinner!
"This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6