At first, I considered avoiding this topic of the empty chair, but I believe it’s important.
Growing up in a mid sized family, my grandparents always believed it was important to feed the needy, and used their belief to do just that. No one was ever turned away from their table.
After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother spent her days alone, except for friends and family who might stop by. She cleaned her home, kept the garden growing, harvested and prepared meals, but her free time was spent reading the Bible.
She loved Jesus and reading the Bible and praying.
Often as I’d stop over before or after school, or later after work, she’d be sitting in Granddad’s favorite chair, and his wooden ‘table’ chair would be pulled near the side of the chair where she sat to read the Bible. Occasionally, I’d see her look over to the empty chair and her lips would move, but she’d have said nothing.
After one particularly harrowing week, when I arrived, she was just standing from her morning prayers. Yes, at 83, she still knelt in prayer.
She wiped a few tears away and I gave her a hug.
“I was hoping you’d come by today,” she said. “I made extra for lunch.”
“What are we having, Grandma?”
Her answer didn’t surprise me, I’d smelled it as I came in the door, the particularly fresh, refreshing, aroma of tomatoes cooking on the stove.
I put a bag of groceries on the table and started putting them away. A bag of her favorite cookies (Keebler Pecan Sandies), milk, a new jar of raw honey, some fresh vegetables and frozen meat that she could pull off one at a time when she was cooking for just herself.
She served up bowls of hearty pink soup and thick wedges of fresh baked bread and we sat down to eat. She took my hand and prayed. The prayer was a frequent prayer, and though not a written pre-worded prayer, one she often prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, we come to you in appreciation, in deep gratitude for all that you’ve provided. For this food, Lord, the hands that prepare it, for the blessing and good health it will give and this day, Lord, for the company to share it. You know how often I pray that you fill the empty chair at my table, Lord, and I just want you to pour out your blessing on this one, who today shares in my wealth and your glory. In Jesus precious name we pray, Amen.”
I could feel the spirit of the Lord in that room, that day, blessing me, the one seated in the empty chair at my grandmother’s table. What a precious memory that day has become, the tremendous joy of knowing how fervently my grandmother prayed, for me specifically, but for the guest in her home, every time, who filled the empty chair at her table.
My most fervent prayer is that we all, each family, each home, always have enough to fill the needs of the person in the empty chair. That we continue to pray for those who fill the empty chair. Lord, you know the need, we know Your power. Open up the skies, Lord and pour out your blessings and forgiveness to those who fill up the Empty Chair.