As a child there were a number of things that I was determined to do differently once I became an adult. One of these high aspirations included eating dessert as the first course of a meal. While this concept is not unique to me, it would most definitely transform the mealtime experience. Perhaps the joy that is created from eating dessert first would begin to overflow into other aspects of our lives. Maybe we would become more optimistic, have a little more of a leap in our step, a smile on our face, a twinkle in our eye, and a warm heart knowing that the next savory delight was just minutes away. Can you imagine how life would be enhanced just from the gratitude of serving dessert first—especially during Thanksgiving dinner?
My ideals have not changed much since childhood. While it might not be the best dietary practice, there may be other applications to this concept. I cannot stop from speculating that there were most likely a number of individuals, whom after spending some time at the table with Christ, walked away feeling like they were served dessert first. I am not talking about stimulated taste buds or satisfied guts. I am thinking of a deep, overwhelming feeling of gratitude found in coming face-to-face with a Person who knows you well and still desires to have you dine at their table.
Do you know the feeling I am talking about? It is the feeling of being intimately and completely known while simultaneously being embraced and fully accepted. Is it possible or am I still living with childish ideals that are never intended to be fulfilled? In light of all my imperfections, and lets not kid ourselves there are many, I could be desired. Isn’t that really what every child is looking for? They want to be loved, appreciated, sought after, prized, protected, and belong to someone—to a family. Not just any family, a family that serves dessert first.
I have seen many children who come from families that do not meet these criteria. These families are made of parents who create a home where children experience the same horrors from which their families are supposed to protect them. Yet surprisingly, these children frequently desire to return home in hopes that they will find the nurture, love, security, and acceptance at the same hands that brought them harm—but they never will. The truth is, none of us will. We will never be the parents who meet our children’s deepest needs, nor will I ever find my needs met in my parents, spouse, friend, or self. We cannot deny these desires that seem rooted in side every one of us, therefore, we must conclude that we are ultimately indented to belong to a different family. C.S. Lewis elegantly addresses this fundamental struggle in his book Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
How else could we explain or understand the story of the prostitute at the feet of Jesus? We do not know of any interaction Mary Madeline, the prostitute, had with Christ prior to that seen in Luke 9, but we can conclude that whatever revelation or experience she received, fulfilled that longing inside her that no other object or relationship could ever do. It was so satisfying that she burst into the house of Simon the Pharisee, fell at the feet of Christ, saturated him with priceless fragrance, and continued to wash his feet with her hair and tears of gratitude which streamed from the depths of her heart. She was blind to the Pharisees casting judgment upon her, but she was not blind to her filth or to the identity of the man whose feet she was lying at.
Mary Madeline, the prostitute, could no longer live as an orphaned, abandoned, lost, neglected, or outcast child. She had a new family and a new name, Mary Madeline, Child of the King. This family served dessert first. All of her deepest needs were completely found and satisfied in knowing Christ. He does not save dessert for the end of the dinner. He starts with the greatest news of all, that I am redeemed. I am restored to the family I was separated from, created for, and intended to be with. Experiencing this created a heart of gratitude in Mary that lead to her falling at the feet of Jesus. Her place and my place at Christ table did not come without a cost. It was paid for with a price I could not pay, the blood of God’s Son poured out that I might live in light of His rich grace.
Have you experienced what it is like to be served dessert first at the table of the King? If you have not, than you have never really tasted what the King has in store for you. If you have, then you know and I encourage you to remember how blessed you are to have eaten at the King’s table. The great news is that He invites you to return for every meal. As a child of the King, you share His table as your own and His grace is continually poured out on your behalf. Therefore, live life this Thanksgiving Day and every day as if you have always received dessert first. Imagine how revolutionary this could be in your life and the lives of others. At Christ’s table your sorrows are turned to joy, strength is given for the impossible, and hearts always leave grateful.