Last August, my husband and I went to Seattle for a Christian counseling conference. The entire city was experiencing an “unprecedented heat wave” of 80-degree days, which to us felt like a welcome reprieve from the sweltering weather we’d been suffering in Tennessee. On the second to last day of the conference, we noticed another couple at our table smirk when the facilitator apologized yet again for the weather, and quickly struck up a conversation about our common hatred of humidity.
As it turned out, they were from Atlanta, and since we only had a few minutes to chat, the couple asked if we wanted to join them that night for dinner. They’d had reservations for their anniversary at an acclaimed waterfront restaurant for more than six months, but the wife assured me that she could call and get the hostess to add two more seats to the table.
What unfolded that night over dinner was nothing short of the gospel. As the sun melted into the water, our conversation went wide and deep, covering the vast terrain of our lives. We tasted grilled octopus and braised lamb shoulder and homemade pastas. When the entrees arrived, Patrick and I ordered the most expensive bottle of wine we could afford, hoping to offer a small gesture of gratitude to our new friends for sharing their anniversary reservation with us. I still remember looking at the price and wondering if we’d gone a little overboard. But this night was special; there was something providential about it.
Several hours later, I noticed the waitress drop a black folded book in front of our new friends. I elbowed my husband in the ribs hard—the universal wife-code for ‘get out your wallet!’—but it was too late. The check had been paid. A signature was already on the bottom of the receipt.
“But,” I started, embarrassed. “That was a really expensive meal. We wanted to…” I looked to Patrick for back-up. “…This was your anniversary!”
It’s hard to think of the extravagance of that night without imagining the extravagance of Jesus. Isaiah paints us a picture of the most opulent love—a free gift available to anyone and everyone. No one is excluded. No one is unwelcome. Our God says, “Come!” He prepares a table before us with food—not just for our bodies, but for our souls. And it costs us nothing. The view from that table will be magnificent because our host, our friend, is the Son of God.
Isaiah and Jesus invite all to come. But as the bride of Christ, we, too, can join in offering the invitation, which echoes from the Old Testament straight through the book of Revelation:
The Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! Whoever is thirsty let him come and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
- Revelation 22:17
Let nothing keep us from joining in the feast. For as gracious as our God has been in His invitation, not one of us can fathom the goodness He’s prepared for us—for all who love Him—in the days to come (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Thanks be to God.
By Claire Gibson
Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.