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The holiday season often ushers in feelings of loneliness and disconnection more than joyful belonging. So many of us look around the holiday table amid the glittering lights and silver garlands and only wish for a different seat at a different table. Some long for a seat at the table of happy marriages and thriving children, better health, more wealth, or a more prestigious career. As the family gathers together for another Christmas, we measure our lives against who we were last year, and we realize our dreams haven’t materialized. We’re still single. We’re still childless. We’re still grieving. We’re still battling illness. We’re still not who we want to be. The holidays, perhaps more than any other time of year, remind us of what we’re missing.
But what if this Christmas you found yourself seated at the table you’ve been longing for all this time? A few years ago, I read a single verse in scripture that offered an invitation to sit at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King. At this table, the pain inside of me healed so profoundly that I felt like I became a new person. The depression I battled for so many years began to transform into hope. In Ephesians 2:6, Paul writes, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” This little word, seated, allowed me to visualize myself at a grand table next to Jesus. Here, I had everything I needed because I was seated with Christ. What could be better? Here, I could gaze at the Lord and realize I didn’t need a better seat at another table. No matter what was happening in my life—the disappointments, fears, longings, and losses—I could enjoy my seat in the heavenly realms and know that God could “meet all of [my] needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
I began to picture my seat with Jesus every day, and the image was a balm to my soul. Here I am, at the best table in the universe, and I can stop longing for a different, better life. Just like Paul who wrote about his heavenly seat from the terrible seat in a Roman prison, I think about my own heavenly seat when my physical circumstances seem painful and depressing. When I feel jealous, I know I’m at the best table. When I feel lonely, I know I’m seated with Jesus. When I feel ugly, I know I’m gazing at Jesus and that “those who look to him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5). When I feel bitter, I know I’m seated at a table where God “works out everything in conformity to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). Every depressing thought transforms to truth as I dwell on my special seat with Jesus.
As we think about this amazing seat with Christ, our holiday changes indeed. When we are seated with Christ, we stop comparing our Christmas to any other family because we know God has ordained us for this family, at this table, and he has “good works prepared in advance for us to do” that are specific for us. We find meaning and joy in whatever life looks like because we trust Jesus for our lives. Even more, when we’re seated with Christ, we worship Him and take our eyes off ourselves. In fact, because we’re experiencing intimacy with Jesus, loneliness and disconnection fade and allow us to focus on blessing others. We can stop obsessing over ourselves and consider how we might serve and love best. When we’re seated with Christ, we realize that God sovereignly places us right where we are for a reason this holiday season, and we can trust that He knows what He’s doing. Finally, when we’re seated with Christ, we can reiterate to our heart that at all times, God’s peace, power, hope, and love are available to us in endless supply.
No matter how that table looks to your physical eyes, imagine that spiritually, you are at a table of boundless provision. Think about the “riches of His grace” which Jesus “lavishes” on you (Ephesians 1:7-8). Think about Psalm 31:19 where the psalmist writes, “How abundant are the good things [that God has] stored up” for us. Our hearts desperately need to know we’re seated with Christ this Christmas. As we consider this seat at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King, we experience Christmas more fully because we know that Jesus came to win a seat for us. A Savior has come to rescue us from our ordinary, disappointing, and lonely lives to worship Him at our seat in the heavenly realms. Here, Christmas returns to what it was meant to be. We meet Immanuel—God with us—and indeed we take our seat next to Him and have everything we need. We find our ordinary lives become supernatural as God works in us to bear fruit. Our disappointments turn to a joyful trusting in God’s plans. And we deeply belong with Him when we feel lonely.
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As you take your seat with Jesus, I pray your holiday table shimmers with God’s glory and that the joy and hope you’ve lost returns. May you overflow with these spiritual gifts as you sit with Jesus.
Heather Holleman, PhD, is the author of Seated With Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison. She is a speaker, writer, and college instructor and serves on the staff of Faculty Commons with Cru. Heather lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their two daughters. To learn more about Heather, visit her at heatherholleman.com.
Publication date: December 3, 2015
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