Thursday, May 16, 2013

At the Feet of the King

Last Tuesday Dad told us a story. It went something like this:

My upbringing was very difficult. My father was dead, and I had no family to speak of. As a young child I had suffered a dreadful injury, resulting in my becoming lame.

I lived in a desolate, desert area where we had to scrabble each day to make a living. I had nothing - no prospects, no miracle cure, no future.

I shouldn't say I had nothing, though. I had one thing, one constant companion in my life that had joined me in my childhood and refused to leave. It accompanied me on every halting, agonizing step of my life.


I lived in fear, fear of one man who could effectively end my pathetic life, such as it was. If he found me, I was convinced that he would bring me down, would destroy the tiny existence I had cobbled together for myself. 

Time went by. I found a girl who would marry me and we had a child. My fear subsided gradually, to be replaced by a certain emptiness. As days drifted into months morphed into years yawned into apathy, even my dreams dried up like the desert in which I was interred. I had no hope. I had no expectation of anything good coming into or out of my life. I just was.

Until the day the men came to my door. "He knows about you. He's demanding that you come and meet with him."

My nemesis, the cause of my fear, had somehow tracked me down. I don't remember much about that terrifying journey, but I do remember this: I remember hugging my son, wondering if I should leave him behind for his own safety. Then my subconscious reminded me of what it was like to be separated from your father and I decided that, live or die, we would be together.

We traveled under armed escort, finally arriving at the city. I wanted to clean up, to compose myself, but my guards told me the order was that I be taken immediately into his presence.

With rough kindness they supported me part way across the room and then unceremoniously left me to half hobble, half drag my crippled self the last few steps to where he sat, motionless.

My trembling was not due to my infirmity alone. I glanced for one petrified moment at his face. His eyes were burning into me. Dropping my gaze, I fell prostrate at his feet, wordless, the terror pounding in my ears like demon drums.

And then he spoke only one word.

My name.


I must have misheard: the yearning, aching note in those four syllables! No one had spoken to me with that tone since -

I had to respond. "I am your servant," my teeth managed to chatter, while I braced myself for the sword swishing past my ears on the way to my neck or, at the very least, for a swift kick to my kidneys.

"Fear not," his voice replied. "I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father, Jonathan, and I will restore the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul."

I couldn't believe it. I must not believe it. This was clearly a trap and I dared not fall into it, not with Micah my son also here.

"What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?" I asked, my voice barely a whisper.

As I asked my question, I glanced up at him. He had not taken his eyes off me. And as I looked with more courage, now, I realized that even though he was speaking to the steward about arrangements which had already been made for my comfort and Micah's, he saw me.

But it seemed to me that as he gazed at me, he saw more than just me. He was seeing my father, his closest friend, who had been killed by the Philistines in battle along with my grandfather, Saul. My grandfather's death had put him on the throne. 

My grandfather's death had changed my life. It was when he and my father died that my nanny panicked and fled into hiding, carrying me, a 5-year-old, in her arms. But in her haste she dropped me and the bones in my legs were shattered, never to be reset properly.

My nanny had told me stories of David, the shepherd boy who had wormed his way into the lives and hearts of my family, only to turn on them. She told me of how he split the family because my own father, Jonathan, refused to abandon David and actually worked on his side against my grandfather.

Now David was king and he would hunt me down and kill me if he found me. That's what rulers did in those days - they killed off the entire family of the previous ruler to ensure that there would be no insurrection.

Insurrection from a crippled 5-year-old? Ha.

And that is how I came to live in fear my whole life.

I was taken to my new living quarters and - most incredibly of all - was assigned a place at the king's sons' table for my meals.

I was treated like David's own son. And as the servitors gently laid the richly woven covers over each of our legs as we reclined at table, I felt just like all the others. All our legs were covered exactly the same way.

By the way, my name, Mephibosheth? It means "scatters shame." Who would have named me that? It could not have been my father, who had loved me deeply. It was the echo of his voice I heard when King David spoke my name ...

It must have been my grandfather Saul, who had said that my father had brought shame to him and the family by taking on David's cause. 

There are other ways than literally broken legs that a person can be crippled. There are broken spirits and broken hearts. There are shattered dreams. There are crushed expectations. A person can be crippled by disappointment, by fear of failure, by rejection. By shame. 

A person can be crippled by fear itself. The very person I thought would destroy me was - unbeknownst to me - thinking about me, planning for me. Even my lameness was covered by David's provision for me at the table. I had lived in Lodebar, "no pasture," the desert. And completely without my seeking, planning or even hoping, I was brought to a place of plenty.


Dad went on: This restoration of Mephibosheth was not something he was entitled to, sought, worked for, or thought about. It was all of grace, for the sake of someone else. It was all for Jonathan.

Mephibosheth had to change his own attitude to be able to enter into the king's comforts fully. He had viewed himself as a crippled boy and man with no hope of any great advancement; as a "dead dog."

In today's society, Dad mused, we are so much about self-esteem. And of course we shouldn't think poorly of ourselves. But our intrinsic self-confidence should come from our confidence in God, and not be dependent on our own accomplishments.

"Take hope today," Dad urged us. "God can, may, will and does work when we are not conscious of it, when we are not even thinking about it. He has a plan and a purpose. And He will fulfill his plan and purpose for us, for the sake of His Son. "Christ horizons God's grace," he quoted. God's grace is found in Christ, and He wants us to experience it. We may have many limitations, hurts, things that cannot be changed in our life. Early experiences often have marked us for the rest of our lives, just like Mephibosheth. 

"God has good things planned for and in store for us. Let us not measure God's work on our behalf according to our understanding and our thoughts. God is greater than our highest thought of Him. His plans and thoughts are far greater than ours. In the silence, God can and does work," Dad reminded us.

In closing, Dad told the story of my brother Ed Chelli, now the president of the Bible College. As a child, Ed was laid low with meningitis of the brain. He was dying.

A doctor, a Hindu, came by to see Ed in the Chellis' home. After careful examination and evaluation, he told Ed's grief-stricken parents," There's nothing more I can do. But remember, there is God."

That night both Ed's parents got down on their knees beside their inert son's bed, earnestly pleading with God for Ed to make it. Then Ed's mother, Merah, told her husband, "You go to bed now. Edwin will be healed by morning."

Sure enough, the next morning found Ed sitting up, asking for warm milk. God had once again worked in the night ...

As Dad finished speaking, I saw myself right there next to Mephibosheth, prostrate at the feet of my king. I - crippled by past experiences, by fears, by the forced relinquishment of dreams, someone who deserved nothing - was at the feet of the One who loves me, who had actually gone out of his way to search me out.

And now, as I lay there trembling, scared to so much as look up at Him, He said one word.


As I dared to peek up at Him, He was looking steadily back at me with eyes that showed nothing but love. But He was seeing more than me. And it came to me with fresh new impact that His grace that extends to me is none of my own doing. It is because of His Son that I now experience such grace. As He looks at me - helpless, a broken person who sins and can do nothing on my own - He doesn't see any of that. He sees Jesus and He accepts and cares for me because of His son.

And the grace extended toward me also brings to me hope. I will never forget that I am crippled; but I will also be partaking at the king's own table because I accepted His awe-inspiring gift of salvation. I am His.


  1. God's love for us, who are so unworthy, is SO Amazing! So thankful for His gift of salvation and his merciful love:).

  2. How wonderful to think of you SITTING at a table, not up and serving! Knowing "it is enough" and resting in that comforting cover, soft as a crocheted blanket. With expectancy, rather than forced expectations. You are there! I love you! Thanks for sharing this message, which I in turn shared with the pastors at prayer today. We are all riddled with scattered shame. Grace covers and love accepts. Freedom!


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