“At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’…But they all alike began to make excuses.” Luke 14:17-18a
I was standing in the fitness center one day listening to the women behind me discuss our church’s “Summer Salads Speaker Series”. This summer event hosted by our Women’s Ministry drew quite a crowd of women to share a meal and listen to Christian Women speakers as they told their stories of God’s work in their lives. Most women that came were excited, looking forward to the time of food and fellowship. For me, as I struggled in recovery, this event was a source of much anxiety. My treatment team worked diligently to make sure that I had the tools I needed to be able to attend (after all, of course I was a part of the women’s ministry hosting committee!). We discussed how this was a time of fellowship and that it wasn’t about the food. My dietician worked with me on my meal plan so that I would feel more comfortable about eating the food that would be served. I even called the pastor’s wife to ask what was on the menu so that there would be no surprises. I would be ready, I would be able to go and socialize, and enjoy myself like a “normal” person. Or so I thought.
I had done such a good job of preparing for all that I could think of that would trigger me or cause me anxiety. I did everything I could to shut the voice of my eating disorder out of my head. But I didn’t plan for what happened that day at the fitness center.
I was packing up to leave, to head for my “self-care” mani/pedi when I heard them. Two women were discussing the “Summer Salads.”
“Are you going tonight?”
“Yes, but I am going to get there late…I don’t want to eat…I don’t ‘do’ mayo and stuff like that.”
“Ugh, I hear you.. but I am going with a friend, so I will be there for the meal. Maybe I will just tell them I don’t want it.”
“Well, they will probably just set the plate down in front of you. I always just cover the plate with a napkin and just throw it away.”
I was stunned, frozen. I could not believe what I was hearing! I had worked so hard to get Ed’s voice out of my head and there it was coming out of the mouths of the people around me!!! What was I supposed to do?! Immediately, the voice started up in my head…
“See, nobody eats that food. You won’t be the only one. Just eat something safe at home and avoid the meal altogether….” The voice said much more that day…all the way home, more and more excuses kept flying through my head. I had accepted the invitation, but now I wasn’t even sure if I could go at all!
By this time in my recovery, I had already begun to identify that voice not so much as “ED”, but as Satan. I knew the evil one was trying to get me to focus on the food on the plate instead of the real nourishment that would be provided that night through God’s Word. If he could keep me distracted with excuses….I would miss the fellowship and, most importantly, the worship.
As I dried off from my shower and looked at myself in the mirror, I knew I had a choice to make…God or myself. God’s truth or Satan’s lies. Feast or Famine….which would it be?
I chose TRUTH. I wrapped myself up in the bathrobe and went into my closet…I shut the door.
My prayer that day was not eloquent, grammar-perfect, or filled with Scripture. It was simply this:
“God, come quickly! I am being attacked. Quiet the voice. Make it shut up! Make it go away. Hear me…I need you now!”
I don’t know how loud I was yelling, but I was yelling. I don’t know how long I was in that closet or how many times I repeated those words. What I do know is that God accepted my invitation. He came and He stayed.
I walked into the Summer Salads night, welcomed women from our community to our church, and enjoyed fellowship, friends, and yes, even the food. Those ladies at the gym? They didn’t show up that night. I don’t know what their ultimate excuse was, but I know they missed out on the banquet of blessings there that night. And they are the reason that I speak out about the voice now…not just the one that gives the excuses, but the One that takes them all away as well.
Breathing In (Bible Study):
Read the Parable of the Great Banquet in its entirety.
- Write your own reflection on this parable. Where is God in it? Where are you?
- The invitees gave some pretty poor excuses. What were they and why are they not valid? Have you ever given an excuse, backed out of a commitment, or declined an invitation because of your eating disorder? Why do you think that “voice” is so keen on encouraging this?
- The invited guests had misaligned priorities. They felt that they would be missing out on material or worldly things if they went. What did they really miss out on receiving? What are you missing out on when you give excuses?
- Of course, this parable isn’t just about a meal, it is about turning down God’s invitation to be a part of his family, to receive the abundance of His love, nourishment, and provision. When we make our own selfish desires the priority, when we choose our negative behaviors over the Banquet God offers us through Jesus, we fail to receive His banquet of grace and mercy in our lives. Have you accepted God’s invitation? Jesus came to tell us ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ How will you respond; with gratitude or with an excuse?
Breathing Out (Prayer):
Father in heaven,
Thank you for preparing a Great Banquet for us. Thank you for calling us to Your table. May we not be too afraid to come to the meal and partake of the nourishment You have so lovingly provided. We know you will fill our hungry souls with good things. What you have given us is for our good; it will not harm us. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus out to gather us and bringing us back to you. May we be without excuse. May we say, “Yes, we are ready.” Amen.