George Bowers Sr. God assigns our seats

George Bowers Sr.

June is wedding month and nuptial vows are being pledged and recited all over the Valley these days. Thankfully, the weather promises to be a little better this weekend than last and those who have planned outdoor celebrations will hopefully be able to see their dreams come to fruition.

Modern weddings involve a huge amount of planning: whom to invite, where to have it, what to serve, colors, music, flowers, and so much more. Having had a daughter who just tied the knot in mid-April, all of these tasks are fresh in my memory.

One other duty that often requires attention for weddings with meals is a seating plan. Families and close friends are usually grouped at tables to either surround folks with those whom they are familiar with, or in some cases, they are intentionally mixed to encourage guests to develop relationships with new acquaintances. Either way, thought and prior consideration are required, although some couples prefer to allow guests to seat themselves according to their own preferences, which of course is also perfectly acceptable.

Jesus even spoke of preferred seating arrangements at banquets in his day and reminded us that it’s better to sit in the shadows and then be moved upward, than to seek honor and be moved down. It’s obvious that the issue of who should sit where is an ancient dilemma that can create conflict and hurt feelings.

As I’ve thought about arranged seating, I’m reminded of how Paul tells us in Acts 17:26 that God determined the times set for human beings and the exact places where they should live. That truth indicates that he has prescribed our individual stations in life based on his wisdom and purposes and has arranged our place cards and seating assignments according to his plans.

Although we may, at times, believe we were born “50 years too late,” or “before our time,” this passage makes it clear that each of us is exactly at the place and time we are supposed to be. We were born to the parents he chose, at the address he selected, with the relatives and neighbors that he ordained, and at the precise time of his election. That doesn’t mean our friends and families have always been obedient in carrying out his will, but it does assure us that we are where we are at the human table by God’s design and determination.

With that in mind, it is important for us to embrace the settings in which we find ourselves. Instead of resisting God and his plans and always longing to be at another table, let’s cooperate with him and invite him to reveal how we can best function within the times and places he has chosen for us. Instead of fighting with those at the table near us and complaining about how “out of place” we may feel, let’s embrace our fellow table mates and maximize the opportunities God has placed in front of us.

We may not understand his purposes for seating us where he has, but just as we trust the wedding coordinators and the brides and grooms, let’s respect and honor God’s decisions and make the most of what we have. We may just find that the folks he’s seated us near at home, at school, at work, at church, and in our communities, are some of the best humans he ever created and that he’s put us near them for our own good and blessing as well as for theirs. Learning to love my table mates, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eleven books in addition to contributing to Everyday Grace for Men by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.