The Table Is SetGeorge Shamblin
I’m willing to bet that today you’ll soon be confronted with a conversation, very likely from a brother or sister in Christ, about the sad state of affairs upon us. The banter, mostly negative, will predictably flow something like this: “The table before us is tragically being set for many bad things to come.” At which time you as a disciple of Jesus must interject, “Are you serious? Have you not heard what was spoken through the Prophet Jeremiah: ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will let Myself be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you.'” (Jeremiah 29:12-14)
Far from bad things setting the table for bad things to come, the bad things have set the table for good things to come! And the good things of God will most assuredly come. You see, it’s during times of affliction, not times of prosperity, that human affections grown in affinity towards the things of God. Stated simply, God highlights Himself and brings glory to Himself through our afflictions. We may not always like it, but that is His way of doing things, and we have to trust He has our best interest in view.
A statue of a Greek woman stands proud in the center of Enterprise, Alabama. Its white marble arms stretch high above its head. Braced in the beautiful woman’s hands is a round bowl, atop which is perched … an enormous bug. It’s a boll weevil, to be precise—about 50 pounds in statue form, but normally smaller than a pinkie fingernail.
Enterprise’s weevil statue dates back to 1919, when a local merchant commissioned the marbled figure from an Italian sculptor. The plaque in front of it reads the same today as it did then: “In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity, this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”
The monument could be just another piece of quirky Americana, a town honoring a small aspect of its heritage in a unique way. But the impact the boll weevil has had across the United States is anything but small— and is far from positive. Since its arrival from Mexico in 1892, the weevil has cost the American cotton industry more than $23 billion in losses and prompted the largest eradication effort in the nation’s history.
“I cannot think of another insect that’s displaced so many people, changed the economy of rural America, and was so environmentally injurious that everybody clearly rallied around and said we have to get rid of it,” says Dominic Reisig, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University.
By 1919—right when the boll weevil scourge was reaching its peak elsewhere in the South—Coffee County was the largest producer of peanuts in the country, and shortly thereafter became the first in the region to produce peanut oil. Peanut oil quickly brought in far superior profit margins than cotton ever did.
For Bradley and the town of Enterprise, the lesson is a bit subtler. “So many people think, why did you build a statue to honor something that did so much destruction?” Bradley says. “It was more to recognize the fact that the boll weevil caused farmers to seek a better cash crop to replace cotton.” – Smithsonian Magazine
Spiritually, we as Americans have grown overly dependent on staple crops such as consumerism, commercialism, and materialism. The yields of which we genuinely believed were in our best interest; we now know that to be utterly false. Clearly the Lord has something better for us. He’s known to be that way. He’s good that way. It is His thoughts, we learn in the hardest of ways, that are far superior to our thoughts, and His ways that are far higher than our own (Isaiah 55:9) I believe 2020 could go down in History as our “Boll Weevil,” that which upset the apple cart in many respects, causing us to reconsider where our true securities lay.
Maybe, what we’ve been through over the last year has set the table in 2021 for a massive ingathering of believers. Think about it. Jesus-lovers have begged The Lord of the Harvest for decades to reap an incalculable number of souls unto Himself. Could it be that recent events are the very means by which The father is forcing us out into the harvest that we might otherwise pass by unawares?
Like the Peasall sisters’ song in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, may we be found “In the Highways, in the Hedges, I’ll be somewhere a-workin’ for my Lord,” lifted from The Parable of the Great Banquet where the Master instructed His servant, “Go out quickly into the highways and hedges, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:21-23)
You might be asking, “What should I say while pervading the Highways & Byways as Jesus commanded we do?” C.S. Lewis set the stage for one approach in his book Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
As men and women of Christ, you and I have peered into that other world of which C.S Lewis spoke, albeit from a distance. And we are presently readying ourselves to celebrate at the Grand Banquet therein; The Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We must inform others that at the Head of the Table sits Him Who has tirelessly knocked at the door of your heart desiring to come and dine with just you. (Revelation 3:20). It is Christ Jesus Himself Who directly and literally asserts: “With passionate longing I have passionately longed to have this meal with you.” (Luke 22:15) There is however one stipulation for attending this feast: you must receive the invitation that’s been extended to you: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires, take the water of life without cost.'” (Rev. 22:17)
The table is set, preparations are being made, and yet there is still room. Let us please join together and “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that His house may be filled.”