Thinking back to my high school days, the cafeteria is an appropriate metaphor for an angst-filled life. We stand in the doorway, blue trays gripped with white knuckles, providing a barrier between us and the world. Each day you stand there, tray firmly in place, scanning the room, searching for a place to belong, or at least a place to eat in obscurity. And then, one day, someone goes out of their way to catch your eye with a smile, a nod of acceptance. Slowly, you exhale. Now, if you are like me, you wonder why they would want to sit with you in the first place, and you keep walking. I mean, can’t they see what is on my tray? A buffet of lies, deceit, abuse, infidelity, loneliness, some piled onto my tray myself, some left there, unwanted and uninvited. Who would make room for that at their table? I spent so long trying to fade into the shadows that even I almost forgot that I existed. Then I met Him.
“Come to me,” I heard Him say. “Come to me.”
I looked behind me. I looked to my left and to my right. Finally I realized he was talking to me, though I had no idea why. “Come walk with me,” He said. Without knowing why He would want me to, I took one step closer. I was sure that when He learned who I was deep down, the things I’d done, the things that were done to me, the invitation would be rescinded. Instead, He said, “That tray looks really heavy. Let me take it for you.” Embarrassed and ashamed, I made room for Him to take a corner, keeping my eyes glued to the floor.
A few more steps and I took one hand off the tray, stealing a glance at Him to make sure this was alright, and allowed Him to take half of it. Soon He was carrying my burden for me, while I looked on, wondering why He would do it. Didn’t the stench of what I carried bother Him? Without noticing when, I became aware He wasn’t carrying it anymore. Somewhere along the way, He set the load down, and it was just the two of us. When I look for the old blue tray, He reaches for my hand and saying, “Now that the tray isn’t in the way, I can come closer to you.” Sometimes I try to remind Him of the baggage I was carrying when we met; He smiles at me and says, “Hey, we are singing a new song. A song about Me.”
I meet His eyes, smile back, and begin to sing.
The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Exodus 15:2