by Lore Ferguson
In the summer of 2010 a man and his wife said nine words that changed my life.
It started with a table.
I was 29 and had finally moved into a house where I could unpack my books, hang curtains, and let the houseplants settle into some semblance of consistency. We had a front porch with three pillars on which we hung a hammock, strung white lights, and nestled some plants in pots. It was home. We lived on that porch, napped on the hammock, and struck up conversations with passers-by. On that porch we ate our meals around an antique table I’d nabbed for $40 and a bit of bartering.
It was a perfect table. Round. Heavy. Old. Pedestal. Beautiful. It was the sort of table that I planned on having for years to come.
Every night my friends would gather around it, even people from various religions. We would cook dinner or everyone would bring their own. We would laugh, argue, talk, cry, pray, share. My heart was breaking that whole year, but around that table my heart began to feel whole.
Then God made it clear that the wholeness of heart I longed for would not be found around that table, on that front porch, in that bungalow in upstate New York. It would be found, in part, by a move a thousand miles away to Texas—a place I hated on first sight and still struggle to love.
I began to tally and inventory what would need to be sold, moved, or stored, and it all hinged on that table. I loved that table. In my mind, if I kept the table, I could justify storing or moving everything else. Otherwise, I’d just sell everything and shake the dust from my soles.
One night I was with some friends and one said the words that changed my life, “You must love Jesus and people more than things.”
Those nine words began to break through the piles of fear I had lived under for a decade. I had become the embodiment of Romans 1:25: worshiping the created over the Creator.
When a woman is unmarried it can be tempting to do two things:
The first is to build a life of security, comfort, and control. Buy a house and fill it with all the comforts of modern living, expensive furniture, and precious dishes. It can be tempting to live in such a way that we treasure our home more than we treasure the gospel in our home. We sustain ourselves with the next DIY project. We treasure the security that comes from what we feel we can control. We are a bit like Sarah with her maid Hagar here; doubting the Lord knows our deepest desires, we shove something in front of him in desperate efforts to control our lives. “You won’t give me a husband and family? Fine! With or without you I’m still going to have the house and security that I want!”
The second temptation is to put off living a life of hospitable ministry where we love our neighbors well. We don’t invest in a set of knives or some silverware, we don’t buy linens for a guest bed, or make an effort to set the table for house-guests. We take so little pride in our home because we are afraid that if begin to love our home and place in life, we will seal our fate to be a certain spinster. We feel the barrenness that accompanies singleness so acutely that we are tempted to let it infiltrate every area of our lives.
One of the most difficult and beautiful parts of singleness is that we are to be concerned with the things of the Lord and how to please Him (I Cor. 7:34). Sometimes the way we please him best is to be flexible with our resources and with that comes an almost certain lack of security in things that are passing away. But it also brings with it a beautiful call to serve the Lord fully wherever we are.
I sold my table for $20. In the end I sold everything except what would fit in my two-door car. When I left New York, I left with a sense of expectation, a vision for what was next, and a deep desire to treasure the gospel more than I treasured any other treasure. It was the easiest decision I have ever made—but it took ten years to make that decision.
The Lord moved me to a place where financial security and homes are the god of the local culture. But the Lord also brought me into the land of the living when I walk in my front door. Learning to worship the Creator over my stuff gives me joy and brings with it an abiding sense of security. My home is a place where nothing owns me. My time does not own me. My things do not own me. It is the Lord alone who owns me—he binds me to himself in a fullness of joy and complete security.
He is my Table and my Feast, my Comfort and my Home.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Lore (@loreferguson) is pronounced Lor-ee, but you can call her Lo. She grew up on the East Coast, but transplanted to Dallas a few years ago—she’s not from Texas, but Texas wants her anyway (as the song goes). Lore has been writing since 2001,blogging since blogs were invented and still can’t get the hang of the whole business very well, but she loves it just the same.