The Empty Seat

God works amazing moments in our lives where one decision that seems small turns into something we could never have imagined.

One of those moments happened for me in a South American restaurant on a rainy night in Guatemala.

We were on the last night of our trip through Compassion International.  About 40 of us had gathered from across the country, across denominations, across age groups, all to visit children we sponsored in Guatemala (or, for one couple, planning to sponsor).

We’d all come together to meet our children, and now we were getting ready to disperse back into ordinary living in the States.  The wake-up alarm for me would be 4:00 a.m. the next morning, and somehow that meant none of us were in a hurry to go to bed.

It was black outside because we were in Guatemala’s winter.  It was warm, but wet.  I don’t remember anyone having umbrellas, or anyone caring how they looked as we entered, single-file, through the separate meeting room in the restaurant.  We went through an outdoor patio, and then seated ourselves in a large, fiesta-decorated room with tables long like giraffe necks.

I was close to the front of the 40 of us.  As we filed in, I was aware of two things:

  • Ben was close behind me.
  • I had two seats to choose from:

1.  Sit next to the wall.  (My friend behind me would be the only one able to sit next to me.)

2.  Sit one seat away from the wall.  (My friend behind me and I would leave an empty seat.)

I remember praying, “God if you want something to happen between Ben and I, then have him sit in the seat next to me.”

And I chose to sit with one seat for my friend and one seat empty.

Ben came in and sat next to me.

I didn’t know much about Ben.  I knew he was quiet and didn’t eat breakfast.  I knew he was interested in me–well, he’d been pursuing me from the get-go . . but in shy ways.  He would try to sit next to me on the bus if my seat was empty.  I tried to make sure it wasn’t.

But that afternoon, an older gentleman on the trip had basically asked me, “Have you taken a look at Ben?”  At first, I’d brushed him off.  But now, I was really thinking about it.  What about Ben?  Could he possibly be the man I’d been waiting for the 10 years of my adult life?  Could he possibly be the man God had for me?

Ben slipped into the seat next to me, and, at that point, our lives together began.

I am so very thankful to God for encouraging me to leave that empty seat.

.                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .                     .

Did you know that there is someone waiting for you to leave an empty seat next to you, too?  No, I’m not talking about the love of your life, but the love of your eternity.  God.

God is waiting for you to leave an empty seat next to you.  He wants to talk to you.  He wants you to listen to Him.  And He wants to listen to you.  God wants to be not just a part of your life, but He wants to be your Life.

God is waiting for you to leave an empty seat next to you.

Asking Christ into your heart isn’t just an emotional high or some kind of one-time ticket-to-Heaven.  It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship, made to last for eternity.

The question is not whether God is waiting.  He is.  The question is, are you ready to leave Him that seat?

Jesus,

I want to know the love of my eternity.  I want to know who You are.  Please forgive me for waiting so long.  I realize now that you’ve been pursuing me my whole life.  I believe in You and what You say in Your Word.  I want you to be the romance of my life.  I want you to be my King of Kings.  You already love me more than I could ever dream.  Now I want to love you more than anything.  Please forgive me of all my sins that have separated me from You, that have taken up Your seat.  I love you.  I want you to be my Savior.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Pursue love . . (from 1 Corinthians 14:1a, NASB)

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