Reserved

When my 4th and 5th grade students enter my classroom every Monday, they get a new seat–randomly chosen from a bag full of color-coded popsicle sticks.

For each color of popsicle stick there are several options for students to choose from. One student may rush for a seat near a friend, while another wants to be near the front of the room. Some prefer a standard classroom chair, while others hope for the coveted “red chair” (a cushy, $5 find at a garage sale several years ago).

At the beginning of each new school year, though, I count to make sure I have enough seats and carefully write out name plates.

There is something about reserving a seat that places value on the person in the chair.

As a young teenager, I received an invitation to a Christmas brunch. My hostess had gone to great lengths to decorate a themed table, and every place setting was painstakingly set with beautiful china. I had no trouble finding my seat, since my name was written there in an elegant script. Any doubt as to whether I was welcome was erased by the personalized gift I found in my chair.

There is something about reserving a seat that places value on the person in the chair.

Forgive me for belaboring the point, but the question lingering in my heart lately is this:

Does Jesus’ have a reserved seat in my life? If so, is the chair I’ve offered Him fit for a king? Even more, is it a throne–high and lifted up–worthy of the King of all Kings?

Somehow, my COVID quarantined life had more time and space in it. Or so it felt.

My favorite hour of the day was 3pm, when I would pour a cup of coffee and curl up with a blanket at the feet of Jesus. Most days, by 2:50pm I was setting aside school and housework and sending the kids off to quiet time, all in anticipation of some alone time with the One who is nearer to me than any other.

Flash forward a few months, and I’m fighting to “squeeze in” time with God, while the list of people and things demanding my time and attention grows longer still.

I read somewhere that people of Jewish faith save a seat for the prophet Elijah when they celebrate the Passover meal. The extra seat is called “Elijah’s Chair,” and there is even a glass of wine left untouched for him.

I’m not familiar with all of the details of this tradition, nor do I know when it began, but my run-away imagination can’t help but wonder if there was a seat for Elijah at any of the Passover meals that Jesus attended.

Elijah is recognized by many as the forerunner to the Messiah–one who prepares the way for the coming King. John the Baptist filled this role when Jesus came to Earth as a baby, and many believe that Elijah himself (who never died but instead “went up by a whirlwind into heaven”–II Kings 2:11) will fill the same roll when Jesus returns as triumphant King.

Imagine … saving a special seat for Elijah when Jesus Himself is in the room.

Imagine … saving a special seat for work and play, family and friends, this and that. While King Jesus is relegated to a lesser seat–squished into an undignified position at the end of the bench.

Let it not be so.

Oh God,

Have mercy on me. On us. Forgive us for ever giving You any seat but the very best. Forgive me for allowing the “stuff” of everday life to crowd You out. Help me learn to lay out the best china, preparing for Your arrival and honoring Your presence in my day and in my life. Jesus, I don’t know when You’ll return again to gather the people who belong to You. But I pray that if that day occurs while I’m still alive and breathing on this Earth, You’ll find me ready and waiting. May the best and most coveted seat in my life be always and only Yours.

Amen

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”–
Matthew 13:44‭ (NLT)

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”–Psalms 22:3 (NLT)

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