Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Notes from the Book: In the pastures of the Holy Land, where shepherds lead their flocks, poisonous plants grow. Thorny thistles, whose needles penetrate the soft nostrils of the sheep, sprout up along the landscape.
If the sheep are to eat without the risk of pain or death, the shepherd must first prepare the fields.
A table, if you will.
Mother's Notes in the Margins: Nissi
Our standard of victory
My Notes: This chapter is more about the role of parents to keep their children safe (preparing the table for them) than anything else. Right now, it speaks to me loud and clear. How like God that I should read it now when my teen is up in arms over the boundaries we've set and closely guard.
Mother wrote "school." I don't know why for sure, but I can guess. For years she worked in food services at the schools in Screven County. She not only took part in the preparation, so to speak, of making sure no child went hungry, she also helped prepare their hearts. She loved them with her words. With her hugs. They loved her back.
"Hey, Mrs. P!" I heard over and over, from the very young she'd loved on the week before to the young adult she'd loved on years before.
"There was hardly a life in Screven County Mama didn't touch," my brother said after her death.
He had that right...
"Jehovan Nissi" she wrote.
"The Lord Our Banner." (Reference Exodus 17: 8-15)
I'm not sure why she focused on this name for God. Why not Jehovah Jireh, the Lord my provider.
Unless, of course, the point is that when rearing children, we truly are at war. Mother knew. She saw what was happening to society as a whole. She didn't like it, either. She did more than just feed and hug and love. She prayed over these children, whether they knew it or not.
I hear her say, "Don't forget, honey, to raise your arms to the Lord in battle for your children. Pray and take authority over the enemy, who wants to steal the young minds. The tender hearts. But our God is stronger than any enemy who wages war against us."
My hands are lifted, Mother. Do you see them?
There is another enemy. Death. Oh, I know... death is merely the portal by which we reach heaven's gates. Oh, then death, where is your victory? Where is your sting?
But it is my enemy because it took Mother and Daddy from me and my brother and all those whose lives they touched. But not death is not their enemy. No. For them, death was the shepherd, providing the table, clearing away the thorns, the poisonous flowers that are pretty to behold but oh so dangerous to nibble upon.
I wonder... as they breathed their last, could they hear the whoosh of the linen tablecloth as it fell over the table? The clink-clink of fine china and crystal? Could they smell the polish from the silver? The sweet mingling aromas of foods being placed around the table, and between the candelabras?
A table prepared for them that day.
A table prepared for me...one day.