“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…"
Living with tension. No matter what you’ve been taught, most of the time you don’t settle a matter once and for all, whatever the matter is. “What’s the matter?” That’s just it; the matter isn’t always easy to figure out and work through. Even if you’re a great leader and discerner of spirits, you don’t just move from trouble-shooting to problem-solving to vision-casting to team-building.
Conflict resolution is a term thrown around quite a bit and it can be misleading to think that every relational squabble can remedied with a perfect solution leading to an final resolution. I’m not saying it isn’t worth pursuing, I’m just trying to keep it real…many times, you will have to live with things staying at least a little wrinkled relationally. Just saying.
There are beautiful moments when two parties who are at odds submit in humble self-awareness to truth, but more often than not, people are content to stay comfortably mounted on the stallion of their “humble” opinion. This leads to tension and you have to learn to live in/with tension to some degree or you will be torn asunder.
To make a long story short…you will have enemies.
That’s what I love about God in this text. He is neither an optimist (there is no conflict) nor a pessimist (there is only conflict)…He is a realist (while conflict is sitting in the room, let’s eat a feast in front of it). That’s brilliant. No denial or running from reality. Just a staggering realization that it’s possible to have God throw a party right in the presence of your greatest nightmare. He doesn’t promise freedom from the fist of opposition, but freedom in the midst of opposition.
This is a paradigm shift we’re talking about here.
Who is one of the greatest energy-draining people in your life? He doesn’t say that he will take away the drainer; he prepares a table and tries to give you energy in front of that sucker.
Who is one of the biggest distractions to you having a quality of life? He doesn’t eliminate the distraction; he tries to out-distract you with goodness right in the presence of the badness.
What steals your joy? What ruins your day? What grates you and gnaws on your last nerve? Who is this disturber of the peace? Name him, her or it. It’s not unbiblical to have an enemy or two. They are lurking around any life that is amounting to something or going somewhere.
And somehow, God doesn’t remove them from our life, but prepares a feast right in front of them, inviting us to the table to chow down in their very presence.
Life isn’t the absence of conflict, or enemies, or tension. Life is found when we can recognize the goodness God is dishing up, pull ourselves up to the table, and eat our hearts out while our enemy is sitting in the corner across the room giving us the stink-eye.
God is always offering us a spread in the middle of the madmen, the question is whether we’ll pull up to the table or miss the meal.
I’m so grateful God is a realist.