Tag Archives: Ticket

A Seat at the Table

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.
Luke 14:7-9 (NIV)

When I was a young man, I was honored to be invited to a special banquet. I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to attend such an occasion again in my lifetime. The banquet hall was enormous and it was filled with some of the most powerful individuals in the world, including politicians, diplomats, and celebrities. The speaker’s table on the stage, by the podium, was a who’s who of the most elite individuals I was used to seeing in the news almost every day.

The individual who had invited me was a person with a certain amount of social status in certain circles. I was just a young man and a nobody who was shocked to have even been allowed to be there at all. So it was, that I shouldn’t have been surprised that when we approached the ticket table and my host asked for our tickets, my host was given a ticket with a table and seat assignment. My ticket, however, relegated me to stand in a line outside the banquet hall with a throng of similar nobodies. I would only be admitted if some VIP didn’t show up.

I can remember being really disappointed and embarrassed. I had felt so honored to be invited, and now I felt so humiliated to have to stand outside while my host enjoyed the banquet. I also remember my host’s attitude upon realization of the situation. The subtext of my host’s words felt to me like: “Well, sucks to be you. Good luck! Hope you get in.”

The banquet was well underway and many of the guests were already finished with their meal when the door opened and an usher pointed to me. I was led through the sea of tables to a table right in front of the ballroom, just a few feet from the podium. I was given the seat of an international diplomat who hadn’t shown up for the banquet and had the privilege of a front-row seat to hear some of the most incredible speakers in the world.

After the banquet, I met back up again with my host who was clearly frustrated. Their guaranteed seat was at a table at the very back of the banquet hall. They could barely see the stage and podium. To be honest, I felt a bit of schadenfreude at that moment. I kinda still feel it as I retell the story.

That experience came to mind this morning as I read Jesus’ words to the guests at a banquet. Be humble. Let others have the seat of prominence. Be willing to wait in the lobby for an open seat.

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In the quiet this morning I have to confess to you that my attitude wasn’t so humble as I waited behind the banquet hall door. I felt anger and disappointment. The end of the story, however, taught me an important lesson that I’ve never forgotten.

Have you missed the previous chapter-a-day posts from this journey through the Gospel of Luke? Click on this image and it will take you to a quick index of the other posts!

Chapter-a-Day Hosea 4

English: Image of a Thomas Saf-T-Liner HDX sch...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Don’t point your finger at someone else
    and try to pass the blame!”
Hosea 4:4a (NLT)

The other day I was in a meeting and those in attendance were asked if they had any prayer requests. I was expecting the normal litany of requests about illnesses and safety for those traveling, but one of the men in the group had an unusual request.

The previous week he’d been driving home and happened upon a school bus with kids and parents milling about. One of the parents standing along the curb began to trip and fall toward the street. Distracted in an effort to avoid hitting the tripping mother, the man realized he’d passed the bus with its stop sign out. Realizing he’d broken the law he promptly drove to the local police station and turned himself in. He reported what he’d done. The result, he was told, was a mandatory court date, a citation, and the possibility of serving jail time. While writing out the citation, the officer realized it was the man’s birthday. “Happy Birthday!” the cop said as he passed over the ticket. Hearing the words “jail time” had the man a little rattle and he asked that we pray for the judge’s leniency at his trial.

I couldn’t help but be impressed by the man’s honesty and willingness to take responsibility for what he’d done. I observe that most people today would quickly slink back home, do everything they could to avoid the rap, excuse their behavior and shift blame to someone or something else. I have come to believe that we live in a time when pointing the finger and shifting blame have been raised to new heights by both individuals, groups and our culture as a whole. How sad that we find it quirky and odd when an individual steps up to the plate and accepts responsibility for his or her own mistakes.

Today, I’m praying for honesty and personal integrity in my own heart and actions, along with those of God’s people.