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The Empty Chair – Have you Missed God’s Invitation?

Have you Missed God's invitation? Left an empty chair at God's feast? An empty chair at our table reminded me I had turned down His invitation.(Last Updated On: October 4, 2017)

How it hurts when we crave the presence of someone special in our home and around our table that doesn’t come. How convicting it is to realize that we’ve been the invited, treasured guest who did not come to the feast.

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My sweet stepson is visiting for Fall Break, an all too short five days, into which we’ve crammed pancake breakfasts, a pumpkin patch trip, elaborate dinners, family movie nights, football in the yard, ice cream truck purchases right before dinner, a decadent chocolate cake, and a fishing trip with daddy today complete with picnic lunch at the park.

The kids have created dirt towns in the tree beds and spent hours collecting bugs. They’ve rolled down hills and left rings around the bathtub. Giggles and squeals have filled the house for one perfect fall weekend, even the weather cooperated.

When you can count your minutes together, making the most of them becomes imperative.

But the empty chair has dampened our joy.

His brother didn’t come this weekend. We tearfully hugged him goodbye at the airport in August, and won’t physically hold him again until Christmas.

At 16, his life is growing more complicated between school, JROTC, friends, a back injury, and soon a job. We understand, but nothing can fill his empty chair at the table. He is a special young man whom we love dearly.

Last night, I ached over the popcorn bowl, our secret ‘just us’ routine of burning the midnight oil over our shows and a big bowl of buttery goodness.

Did you leave an empty chair missing God's invitation for your life?

We can almost count the days we will see him before he tackles adulthood and are jealous of every second we lose with him.

I was praying for help with my emotions over the empty chair at our table, the voice absent from our conversations, the un-shared popcorn, when God asked, “How many times were you invited to my table and did not come?”

Ouch! And I imagined how many times God must have mourned over me. Not because I couldn’t come, but because I wouldn’t. I thought about the tiny hurt in my heart, and how large the wound I caused God must have been.

I was reminded of Jesus’ parable of the king who prepared a grand feast to celebrate his son’s wedding, Matthew 22:1-10 and Luke 14:15-24. The king spared no expense preparing the feast, setting the table, and waited and waited. The wedding feast, supposed to be a week of boisterous celebrating, was silent.

Have you ever planned a party and no one came? Food lined the tables and you sat waiting, anxiously watching the road for any sign of your guests? 

Have you Missed God's invitation? Left an empty chair at God's feast? An empty chair at our table reminded me I had turned down His invitation.

Again, parenting has brought me to my knees as I see myself in relation to God: selfish, absorbed in my busyness, missing what God had prepared for me.

Tears sprang to my eyes. How I had grieved God for years in my rebellion! He had a chair just for me. It didn’t matter if the room was full of others. He was jealous for me.

The king didn’t stop setting the table. He kept inviting, waiting on those who would come.

God patiently kept an empty chair waiting for me, knowing I would finally accept His invitation, acknowledging that I need His eternal presence in my present. What a gracious God we serve!

Likewise, as parents, we leave the table set and the door open, arms waiting. He may not be here physically as often as we would like as he explores his own world, but his chair will always be ready for him.

But the chocolate cake probably won’t last, 😉

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22 thoughts on “The Empty Chair – Have you Missed God’s Invitation?

  1. God is jealous for me, what an unbelievable thought! How patiently He has waited for me to turn to Him!

    1. I know He waited a long time for me!!

  2. This reminds me of the empty chair that the Jews set every year at Passover for the coming of Elijah. I love how you tie in the empty chair that brings heartache with how Christ feels when we fail to sit down at His table.

  3. It’s so beautiful to me that God is patiently waiting for us to receive his invitation to the table! <3

  4. Ah, that hits home. With step-children and second marriages, there are so many empty chairs in our family.

    1. Yes. It is hard on everyone. I feel worst for my daughter who just wants her brothers here.

  5. Parenting has taught me so much about God’s heart for me.

  6. My pastor just preached a similar sermon on Sunday. I hope you get to see your son soon!

    1. Two months and two days! We’re counting down.

  7. What a touching, eloquent post. I love the analogy between earthly parental relationship with the one we share with our heavenly Father. Dead on. Food for thought.

  8. What a great analogy. I love how parenthood as opened my eyes to the Father in so many ways.


  9. wow. I am so sorry. Thankful that the empty chairs are always filled with Holy Spirit! He is also present, even when your longing for someone else comes up empty

    1. It is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with, sharing the parenting of these two boys. Just dropped the one at the airport. Watching his sister cry about broke my heart.

  10. Our arms are too short to reach out to our loved ones. But wherever they are, we can commit them in God’s hands and be rest assured that he will take care of them.

    1. Yep, both boys are in my prayer journal.

  11. Wow, really powerful image coming from a real place like your life’s journey! What a great post!

    1. Thank you. It really helped me shift my perspective and have peace.

  12. Ahh momma. Great examples of setting and resetting the table invitation. Hard to be rejected or miss someone, but we keep calling and inviting. Good word. 🙂 Oh how he loves us!

  13. and sometimes the ONLY thing parents can do is to pray for their kids – and to enjoy the times they have together

    1. It really is the only thing we can do other than raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

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