the extravagant invitation we’ve all been waiting for — #TellHisStory

September 29, 2015 | Dreams, Eyes Toward Home, Faith, grace, Heaven, Hope, thin places | 61 comments

table, supper

So, I’ve been having this dream.

And in the dream, there’s a long table stretching out under an open sky. The heavens are coated with stars, so many that we don’t need to light the ivory tapers that someone twisted into those crystal holders. The table is covered in a white cloth that blows in the summer breeze, and all the people are laughing and carrying on. I carry pottery heaped high and steaming to that long rectangle in the grass. My hands smell like garlic, and the air smells like lilacs.

I’m not wearing shoes, because I want to feel the grass between my toes when I walk back and forth to the kitchen.

The little boys are burping. Some of the women are dressed in sequined gowns, like they got all gussied for some ball to be held in some marbled room somewhere. Sitting beside them? New friends who came wearing their dirty, threadbare T-shirts with screenprinted sayings like, “Go Wildcats” or “Life is Good.” There’s a Mercedes parked next to a rusty Pinto. I nearly trip over a pair of crutches propped up near the head of the table.

Everyone got invited, and almost everyone came. We had hoped and prayed they would. We had wanted them to taste the feast. And we know for sure that someone had hoped and prayed for us, too.

There was this awareness hanging in the air: It cost someone a lot to make a space for us at the table. We came with empty pockets, because the host told us that this was all a gift.

The price of admission? Our hunger.

In the dream, a bunch of us had taped a sign to a barrel and rolled it out to the middle of Main Street. “Come One and All!”  The poor, the lame, the drunk, the rich, the holy. The naughty kid, the valedictorian, the blind guy, the beggar, and the CEO.

There was room for all, and all of us had been waiting our whole lives for this. We didn’t know it until now.

The table seems intimate — like it could fit in the corner of some small diner — yet it stretches for miles because the host didn’t pick favorites. He wants us all.

When I touch the table, it feels like it has a heartbeat.

From the grass, I watch them come ’round the corner, out by the wizened oaks. Some have tears in their eyes. A guy in a three-piece suit drops to his knees on the sidewalk when he sees a chair with his name on the back of it. An old woman throws back her head and starts singing a song I’ve never heard before, but know. There’s a poem hanging from the branches, and music slides down from the sky. It falls like dew on our skin.

And the fireflies dance around our heads.

I see no masks. No one pretends or tries to prove a thing. We showed up fragile and hungry. We are safe here.

“Bring your mess,” says the banner flapping in the breeze. “Your mess doesn’t disqualify you. It’s your ticket in.”

All of us, we know we are a mess, and when we get to thinking about it, we are astonished at the invitation to a table so sacred. The host lets us help serve the dinner, which floors me. And so we keep bringing out potatoes, and green beans, and filet mignon, and my hands shake a little, at the honor of carrying food to the table.

There is more than enough for everyone.

In the dream, someone clears his throat, and the sound echoes down the table, a hallowed rumble. He says: “Have a seat please.” We all find a place at the table. A holy silence falls around our ears, and then down to our ankles.

Everyone is barefoot, and all the bare feet are under one long table, and that’s the part that makes me cry every time.

your mess

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is always a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Karrilee Aggett. She shares about choosing to embrace change as the seasons begin to shift – around us and within us. Find Karrilee here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 xo Jennifer


61 Comments

  1. Alyssa Santos

    A beautiful picture! I know I’m invited:)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Quite the invitation, isn’t it? So grateful for his grace.

      Reply
  2. Karen

    No long comment or added words just….thank you, Jesus!

    Reply
  3. Constance Ann Morrison

    I’ve read this three times now–I want to imprint this scene on my mind. Years ago I had a dream of the sacred feast, too. I was a barefoot servant girl who brought wildflowers from a meadow to decorate the table. What I didn’t know then, but understand now, is that there’s a seat with my name on it. Glory!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Bless your heart. I’m so glad these words encouraged you today, Constance.

      Reply
  4. Shirley Ross Craig

    This is just wonder-full! Thank you!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Grateful for your words. Thanks for stopping by this week.

      Reply
  5. Sharon O

    this is so beautiful

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Sharon! Always a joy to have you here.

      Reply
  6. Devi Duerrmeier

    A beautiful dream, Jennifer. I think it sums up what drew me to and keeps me with Jesus… and good food and life at the table.

    Reply
  7. Mary

    That is one dream I am praying comes true. Beautiful, intimate and welcoming for all. Thank you for these words!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      It’s a dream, and it’s real life! By God’s grace alone…

      Reply
  8. JosephPote

    “Your mess doesn’t disqualify you. It’s your ticket in.”

    Love these words…and your description of our banquet…

    Thank you for sharing, Jennifer!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Joseph. A joy to have you here.

      Reply
  9. Shelly Miller

    Love this Jennifer, what a beautiful picture you’ve painted with your words.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Your words mean a lot. xo

      Reply
  10. Carly

    I love this- “your mess doesn’t disqualify you- it’s your ticket in”. Beautiful post.

    Reply
  11. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Ah, so this is what it means to take off your sandals because this is holy ground. Ah, so this is what the wedding feast of heaven is. Ah, so this is what it means to be a hungry beggar who will be filled. Such an exquisite post, my dear Jennifer.
    Love
    Lynn

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Lynn. Holy ground indeed …

      Reply
  12. Lynn Mosher

    Oh, Jennifer! I love, love, love, love, love, love, love this!!! Such an awesome picture of that delicious, heavenly feast! It so reminds me of the book I wrote (yet to be published), especially what I wrote about Mephibosheth. Oh, how I love this! Beautiful!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      How exciting, Lynn! Congratulations on your book.

      Reply
      • Lynn Mosher

        Thank you, sweet Jennifer! I linked to this post today. Hope that’s okay. 😀

        Reply
  13. Tara Ulrich

    I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!! Your words remind me of Shauna Niequest and her words in her book “Bread and Wine.” Jesus does call EVERY SINGLE ONE of us to the table! And I am so very thankful for that! I want my home to be that place too!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Shauna Niequist. I love her. I have that book, and need to get around to reading it! Too many books, too little time. Thanks for the reminder of “Bread and Wine.”

      Reply
  14. MsLorretty

    Yes… this is my kind of table too. Thanks Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Grateful to have you here. xo

      Reply
  15. Pam

    Absolutely breathtaking, Jennifer. I love all your word pictures, but these words touch me with beauty… “An old woman throws back her head and starts singing a song I’ve never
    heard before, but know. There’s a poem hanging from the branches, and
    music slides down from the sky. It falls like dew on our skin.” Pam, http://wordglow.wordpress.com apples of gold

    Reply
  16. Dolly @ Soulstops.com

    Jennifer,
    what a beautiful dream…what touched me was what you wrote about how the only requirement was our hunger….what grace…makes me think of Psalm 63…Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh yes! Perfect verses for this. xo

      Reply
  17. Sue Donaldson

    So beautiful, Jennifer. There’s always room at the table. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You are so welcome, Sue. xo

      Reply
  18. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Oh man! What a wonderful dream that will all-too-soon, be a reality at the Marriage Supper! And THIS just undoes me…“Bring your mess,” says the banner flapping in the breeze. “Your mess doesn’t disqualify you. It’s your ticket in.”

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Me, too, Caryn. What amazing grace.

      Reply
  19. Joy Lenton

    Oh how I LOVE this! You paint a picture of a community we all long to be a part of, a table where we can all feast freely, a place where grace spills like wine and a welcome beyond any we have ever known before. Thank you, Jennifer, for this tantalising glimpse of heaven to come. 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      It’s gonna be mind-blowing. 🙂

      Reply
  20. Martha Orlando

    The heavenly banquet where all are welcomed through His grace . . . Beautifully expressed, Jennifer!

    Reply
  21. Alecia Simersky

    Beautiful picture of what real community looks like. Come one, come all.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes! And you know what? That photograph is from an actual dinner that a friend hosted in her yard a couple of years ago. The dream looked a lot like that picture.

      Reply
  22. saltshakmk@msn.com

    An idyllic setting for the story of eternity. Yes! All good things and beauty here and worthy to be told. Invitation pierced in His hands–I’m so there.
    Joy!
    Kathy

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yay! Thanks, Kathy. If I don’t see you on earth, I’ll meet you at the table, oK?

      Reply
  23. Karrilee Aggett

    Oh my goodness… this dream, my friend! Gah! I love it so much and I can. not. wait. to sit at a table, barefoot and unwinding, together with you in real life! And thanks so much for the honor on your lovely sidebar! I love hanging out with you… any way I can! 😉 xoxo

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So happy to feature you, Karrilee. I love you … and your beautiful heart!

      Reply
  24. JViola79

    I am so grateful that my mess did not disqualify me! May I always remember He bids all welcome! Beautiful post!

    Reply
  25. Trudy Den Hoed

    What a beautiful picture of our Savior’s table of grace! “Your mess doesn’t disqualify you. It’s your ticket in.” Such a comfort in this! Thank you, Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      A comfort indeed!

      Reply
  26. Tiffany

    Simply beautiful. Simply Jesus.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hugs. Thanks for being here Tiffany.

      Reply
  27. Kathy/holyvacationqueen.com

    This is beautiful, I think in images so had a delightful idea of your party — a vision for God’s promise for our lives and for all of humanity!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Kathy.

      Reply
  28. Kristi Woods

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream with us. Such imagery! Such beautiful hope. And bare feet? Love it! #hope

    Reply
  29. Amanda Jones

    You touched my heart today, thank you for sharing this so beautifully.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for being here, Amanda. I’m glad this spoke to you.

      Reply
  30. Ro Elliott

    Heart grabbing beauty… these words… “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”… that banquet in Heaven… this is maybe what it looks like here on earth… thanks for sharing!!!!

    Reply
  31. Anne

    What a beautiful picture. Keep on sharing such “dreams”. Truly a gifting for the soul!

    Reply

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