I love tea parties. The tradition started years ago with our granddaughters. I searched high and low for a round, marble-topped table reduced to their size, petite upholstered stools, and a tiny tea cupboard filled with various sizes and shapes of teapots and cups. Progressing from durable tin sets to real breakable china, tea parties became our favorite activity. Tucked into the corner of our dining room, this was a place for entertaining our imagination. We found itty-bitty cups that held only a drop of “tea” and it was those teeny cups they loved most of all. Learning to pour from those teapots became a big deal, requiring a towel close by for blotting up spills. I’d serve cut-up morsels of sandwiches and cup cakes small enough for them to retrieve with miniature forks. They learned to daintily pat the corners of their mouths with fancy mini napkins Grandma found just for them. Everything had to be small, you see.
We dressed up in hats and boas and pretended Miss Manners was our special guest. This lady would remind us to hold out our pinkies and to sip quietly, Never slurp! Or burp! Only the kindest, most well-mannered guests were invited to join us. You have to be careful who you entertain at your tea parties. You can’t let just anybody in.
You’d think that lesson would have carried over into my real life, but I recently found myself entertaining uninvited guests. I should have slammed the door shut when they came knocking. But I allowed fear and dread to slip in before I realized who they were. The “what-if’s” of the pandemic became my focus and before I knew it, unwanted guests sat around my table. Instead of turning off the news that fed them, I engaged them in conversation. Considering headlines that screamed doomsday predictions suddenly trapped my thoughts behind bars of gloom and doom. All of the unknowns of 2020 came crashing in on me, and I walked around trapped in a prison of fear.
Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
This Jesus girl was a prisoner of hope, not of fear. I had to return to my known Fortress. Past experiences had taught me take my thoughts captive. To kick out negative thoughts instead of inviting them in for tea. Instead of slamming and bolting the door shut, I had listened to doomsday predictions that erased all rational thoughts. It left me paralyzed with fear because I had opened the door to an enemy.
I cried out to the Lord for help, and would you believe I woke up the next morning with these words penetrating the depths of my soul.
Psalm 16:8 Because I have SET the Lord before me, I will not be shaken.
I knew the Lord was speaking truth to me so I would not be shaken. The key was in that word, “set.” I love to set pictures of my family on shelves bordering our fireplace. I enjoy looking at them and praying over their beautiful faces. In the same way, I needed to intentionally put the Lord right in front of me, like I would a framed picture of my kids.
I had been setting fear and bad news up in front of me, instead of the Lord and His Truth. I didn’t intend to open the door to dread and fear, let alone entertain them, but the twins slipped in before I knew how to get rid of them.
I Thessalonians 5:8 Let us who live in the light be clearheaded protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
It was time to kick out the unwanted guests. I was not fighting flesh and blood. I was fighting the powers of darkness who had as their mission to steal my trust in God.
This was a lesson I had learned in the past but needed some reminding. To set the Lord before me, I had to look up. My mother always turned my eyes toward Jesus. Then I had to capture my thoughts so I wouldn’t go down a dark path. I also had to open my Bible to fill my heart and mind with God’s promises. I actually prayed scripture making it more personal by adding my loved one’s names within certain verses. Then I saturated myself in praise music, keeping it as a background as I went about my day. Music is a powerful tool to keep you focused on the Lord.
So pay attention to your guest list. It matters who you invite to your tea parties! Slam the door shut on unwanted intruders. The Lord prepares a better table before us in the presence of our enemies.
Psalm 23:5 You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attacks from my enemies. You care for all my needs, filling my cup again and again with Your grace. So why would I fear the future? For Your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Now that’s a tea party I plan to attend.