John Eldredge

A Seat at the Table Round

A Seat

at the Table Round


"You are well aware that since the advent of Jesus Christ the world has seen Three Great Fellowships. The First was the table of Jesus Christ, where the apostles broke bread on many occasions...thereafter was instituted another table in memory and in likeness of the first. This was the table of the Holy Grail...that table was succeeded by the Round Table: for from every land where chivalry resides, knights are seen flocking to the Round Table. And when by God's grace they are made companions, they count themselves richer than if they had gained the whole world..." 

(The Quest of the Holy Grail, 13th century)

Fellowship.

The way it was meant to be.

Not as another religious duty. Not even as a matter of mere survival.

Not because you should.

Not even because you must.

(Although for most of us, even this is the eye-opening step that we have long needed to take. To move from the churchy "I should" to the Epic "I'm dead if I don't" is a great step indeed - a step we will certainly take when we begin to see the world from a epic perspective).

You awake to find yourself in the midst of a great and terrible war. It is in fact our most desperate hour...You are given a quest, a mission that will take you deep into the heart of the kingdom of darkness...Of course you will face many dangers; you will be hunted. Would you try to do this alone?
— John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

As we said, it's a big step, and already much is beginning to shift. Using our Epic Imagination, we are able to perceive our true situation in a way that we haven't ever quite received from the pulpit or the pew. Something BIG is happening here, and we've been thrown smack into the middle of it. Surprisingly to a dyed-in-the-wool individualist, it turns out that we don't have much of a prayer of surviving against the firepower that's been marshaled against us if we try to take on the kingdom of darkness alone.

Granted, if your version of the Christian life is still about 'hunkering down' and minding your own business, then it may be that the life you have set for yourself IS something you can handle alone. "Who me? Take on the kingdom of darkness? Why would I want to do a silly thing like that? Isn't that God's job anyway? Besides, things are just beginning to 'settle down' in my life! It's all finally beginning to come together for me. Can't I just be happy about that? I'm no fool: I'm not about to paint a bulls-eye on my chest! Me? Pick a fight with the devil? And risk messing up all of this?"

Thankfully, those of us who are treading the Warrior's Path have begun to awaken from that deadly enchantment, that heart-breaking bad dream in which we are destined to live insignificant lives in the midst of a meaningless and story-less universe.

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Insignificant lives lived in the context of a story-less Universe.

That is the core Lie The Warriors Path exists to refute.

Instead we are coming to see that we truly are embroiled in something deeply significant, and the opposition to our discovering a full life of purpose and joy is heavier than we can even put into words. To borrow one of Eldredge's favorite historical examples, our lives feel for all the world like God's promises and the fulfillment of our heart's deepest desires are right there before us simply waiting for us to reach out and grasp them...only the “day at the beach” we were hoping for turns out to be Normandy Beach on D-Day, and all the might of Europe's fiercest war machine stands between us and the life we long for.

And so it is that the religious appeal to pursuing "fellowship" as an act of obedience now turns into something much more elemental, vital, a matter of survival.

Just look back through the ages: in Romantic, historical, and fictional example after example we learn again and again that it will only be in fellowship that good will overcome evil...

Arthur has his Knights -

heroes one and all, but more eager to hold second-billing in a company of great warriors than to be a Prince alone in some distant land..

Robin has Little John, Will Scarlet, Allen A'Dale -

a small band of merry men who would rather be outlaws with Robin than free men making their way in the world alone.

William Wallace has his oldest friend Seamus, a half-crazed but loyal Irishman named Stephen, and a handful of Highlanders -

ready to follow their friend on the most hopeless of adventures.

D'Artagnan has Athos, Porthos, and Aramis -

and when the Three Musketeers become Four, all of European history is changed by their acts of loyalty and heroism.

Frodo has Sam and 7 others that comprise the Fellowship of the Ring

nine unlikely souls brought together as the world's last hope against the gathering darkness in the East of Middle Earth.

And what of Jesus?

He has 12 that he calls out of the crowd to "be with him" through all the ups and downs of three years of public ministry....and tradition tells us that all but one of them suffered and died a martyr's death as a result of that fellowship.

All these stories - and countless others - that grip you with a longing to share in something similar - they are telling you something about yourself. About how you were designed. About what makes you come alive. About God's plan for how life ought to be.

"And when by God's grace they are made companions, they count themselves richer than if they had gained the whole world...You have seen this happen in your own particular case. From the day you left your mother and were made a companion of the Round Table, you had no wish to go back, but fell at once captive to the sweet intimacy and brotherly love that binds its members." 

(The Quest of the Holy Grail)

Here then, is the final step, the one we are all to some degree needing to yet take - from religious duty, to vital neccesity, to last of all: the desire of our heart.

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We walk in sweet companionship and brotherhood because this is Life at its best…

Honestly: if it were somehow possible for you to receive an invitation to join any of the fellowships listed above, would anything in the world hold you back? A seat at the Table Round? A King's Musketeer and entree into the inner circle of binding brotherhood shared by Athos and like noble souls? Handpicked to walk, eat, sleep, heal, study, laugh and cry with the Son of God and his closest friends?

.If a longing and an ache for such a sweet fellowship isn't rising in your chest at this very minute, then either we have not communicated well enough, or you simply aren't really listening to your heart.

The church says you ought to have this.

The days of our lives tell us we need to have this.

Our hearts (if we dare to listen) tell us we long to have this.

.And what does God say? In Waking the Dead, Eldredge tells of his pilgrimage to the ruins of an ancient community of Celtic warrior-monks who helped to keep Britain a Christian nation during the Dark Ages. Standing there amongst the wind-worn stones between the northern sky and the crashing sea, he thought he heard in the deep places of his heart God saying these words:

"I'm doing this again."

May your heart be alive, your eyes on the horizon, and your bags packed when He does begin to do this again.  You might only have one shot at this.

You aren't going to want to miss it.

 

 

Hanging By a Moment


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Hanging by a Moment

Walking The Warrior’s Path doesn’t mean that you will always be fighting for others.

Not by a long shot.

Much of your time is going to be spent just fighting for yourself: fighting for your heart, fighting for your joy – or just fighting to hang on to the truth that the whole “battle” thing really is deep Reality.

We wish we could do justice in writing to how difficult hanging on to that truth is going to be, especially for those of you who don’t have much encouragement from fellow freedom fighters. After all, if devout believers of my own faith aren’t seeing the world through the lens of this invisible battle between the spiritual forces of darkness and light…well, maybe I’m just chasing dreams and fantasies after all?

Brothers and sisters, don’t let the difficulty of keeping a firm grip on this surprise you, or cause you to doubt the truth of it. We’re telling you right now that it is way out there. And by “way out there” we mean that it is not very perceivable anywhere near where we live. Most likely you are not going to be blessed with a whole lot of hard, physical evidence that this stuff is Real. It’s a pretty rare person (in western culture anyway) who gets to see a physical manifestation of this unseen war. Sometimes we think that going toe-to-toe with a couple of ferocious servants of the Dark Lord in some tangible way here in the material universe would really crank up the intensity of our commitment to this way of perceiving things. Maybe it would. We hope that is where our lives are headed. Who wouldn’t feel more like a real Warrior if they had the chance to physically cross swords with some foul beast from the pit of hell?

And yet, oddly enough, the people who I have met that have experienced some bodily confrontation with fallen and disobedient spirits seem just as prone to marginalize the whole spiritual realm as the rest of us.

Those rare encounters apparently can be neatly boxed and packaged in the category marked “people with serious demon oppression who come to our fellowship seeking prayer and counseling.” Yes, of course it’s real in those cases. But what about the other 98 percent of all the frustrations, disappointments, sorrows and temptations in the everyday lives of everyday people like you and me? That’s all part of it too – the hardest part to believe in, in fact, because these are the sorts of things that we always could, if we tried hard enough, come up with some plausible alternative explanations for.

Yes. Please hear it from us first, so you don’t think that you have discovered a valid and un-anticipated argument against the way of the warrior: the biggest struggle to living in the truth of The Warrior’s Path is the apparent insignificance of our lives - the meaningless monotony we so often see in our world, and in the flat, colorless, redundancy of the days of our lives. That’s what seems True.

And the other?

Oh, so hard to grab a hold of.

We have yet to meet anyone who can consistently live with the eyes of their heart fully fixed upon the Unseen Realm – the Realm that the apostle Paul assures us is more real than the physical realm which we so often are deceived into thinking is all there is – “the whole show” as C.S. Lewis used to say.

You are not alone in that struggle.

Does every single faculty of your brain, your senses, and even your very emotions cry out to you that nothing really important is transpiring in your world this week, this day, much less at this very moment? That life is just life – no less and no more than the endless succession of tasks and activities that we see unfolding here in the light of day with our own two eyes? Sleeping and eating and going from one thing that must be done to the next thing, never sure what it all adds up to in the end anyway? That any hope that there is Something More, something dark and deadly, something beautiful and romantic, something dangerously poised between “happily ever after” and an inescapable doom – that this is all a childish attempt to make a story-book adventure out of a life that has turned out to be so…well…boring?

If life, as John Eldredge says, “is a Romance set within the context of a Great Battle” – then why doesn’t it feel more like that is what is going on here??

Most of the time, you are not going to have to go looking for a battle to fight, because this is the battle: the battle to keep believing that this War is really happening, and that we are caught in the middle of it.

Lose this battle, and you will lose the War.

For if we lose our faith in the existence of the battle today, we will be useless for the fight tomorrow.

We lose 100% of the battles that we don’t enter.

Keep Holding On…