Love: Key to intimate dining

John-14 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:23 (KJV)

The Verse of the Day, for September 6, 2014, begins with the conditional clause “if a man,” followed by the verb “love.” “If an individual loves Jesus Christ, he will adhere to the words that the Lord speaks. If those conditions are met, that individual who meets those conditions will be graced with the very presence of God, the Father and Jesus Christ, His son. John 14:23 establishes the conditions which, if met, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part.

I have heard the expression that when someone whom you love makes a simple request, it is treated as if it were a command. Certainly this should be the case with the request that Jesus Christ makes in John 13:34 (Amplified Bible):

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

As I continued to reflect upon the Verse of the Day, a parallel verse also came to mind, as I began to focus on Revelation 3:20, as my mind became flooded with warm memories of a recent experience related to dining:

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible):

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.

Biltmore_EstateThis past Labor Day weekend, my wife Brenda and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary with a trip to Asheville, NC, where we visited the Biltmore House, described as “America’s largest home,” on a magnificent 8,000-acre estate nestled in the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fifteen years prior to that occurrence, I recall another delightful experience related to dining when visited another Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Here is an excerpt from a journal entry made at the end of a writing workshop that I attended at Bard College in 1999, later incorporated into a blog entry:

Once more I gained great spiritual insight from observing a physical place which provided another glimpse of the grandeur of God. Upon entering the palatial estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a man of enormous wealth–though modest in comparison to some of his brothers–I immediately thought of the verses in John 14: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I shall come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

The magnificent estate of fifty-four rooms with fourteen bathrooms on a mere 600+ acres is indeed modest in comparison with the Biltmore Estate built by the younger, more extravagant brother, George Washington Vanderbilt, whose mansion of 220+ rooms has as many bathrooms as the Hyde Park mansion has rooms (54) situated on originally 2000 acres. The opulence of the rooms overwhelms me, with each individual room decorated to reflect a splendor and uniqueness. The bedrooms, especially, but the entire house seems to have been designed with royalty in mind. As I stand awe and walk, observing the rooms on the two levels, I sense the reality that the splendor awaiting us in God’s magnificent “buildings not made by hands,” reserved for us in the heavenlies far surpasses what I am observing in a temporal context.

The last rooms we observe before exiting the building are the servants’ quarters in the lower level of the building. I was especially moved when I saw the servants’ dining room where we were informed that the servants of the household were served by other servants. As I stood observing the servants’ dining room, I thought of Luke 12:37 (Amplified Bible):

Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are those servants whom the master finds awake and alert and watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!

That particular verse I make reference to in another musical composition:

The Servant’s Song: My Eyes Are Only on You

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As the eyes of a servant look to the hands of His Lord,

As the ears of a servant know so well his master’s voice,

So my mind stays focused to watch and learn how you move.

Create in me a servant’s heart; teach me to serve in love.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As I continue to wait upon my Master and Lord,

I will quickly obey and gladly submit to His will.

I fulfill my calling as I watch and wait to see

When He bids me to the wedding feast, and He will wait on me.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

As one who enjoys preparing and serving meals, I also appreciate dining at fine restaurants. In many instances, one must make reservations ahead of time to be assured that your party and you will be able to eat at the time that you would like. The idea of making reservations or having a place “reserved” for you, brought to mind this poem:                                     

           RESERVED                               
 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,

reserved in heaven for you,

 

1 Peter 1:3-4

 

 

To know intimately the fullness of your grace,

To grasp the truest meaning of being “reserved”

For your glory: for your purpose I am preserved

To someday stand in your presence, face to face

With the Lord in the jeweled splendor of that place

Where those of every kindred, tribe and tongue shall hear

The voice sounding as though many waters are near;

To stand on the bema at the end of the race,

To apprehend living in the eternal now

When all the praises of the ages shall resound:

Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow.

Where sin once reigned, grace does now even more abound.

“I ‘reserved’ you, set you apart, for you are mine.

Beloved, this is ‘reserved’ for you—come and dine.”

 

The Verse of the Day, Revelation 3:20, and other related verses build our anticipation for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” which will be like no other dining experience known to humanity. Such a glorious occasion is the fulfillment of the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ to “Come and Dine,” as Gary Chapman sings:

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