Part Three: Empty Chair
Somewhere about 1020 BC, David, the anointed king of Israel, was being chased and persecuted by the sitting king of Israel, King Saul. While he fled from Saul and from the armies of Israel, David and some four hundred men of Israel, men who had joined themselves to him, fought the enemies of Israel and defended the Southern cities and villages of Israel from marauding Bedouins.
There was a day when after three days of riding they reached Ziklag, their home, and found it burning. Their families, “their wives, and their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” (1 Samuel 30:3-4)
At this dark hour, after years of a hard life, running from Saul and battling the enemies of Israel, in that terrible grief, in the sight of the horrifying loss, the men who were with David counseled together to stone him. At this most desperate hour is when David truly shown forth as a leader of God’s people. The Bible tells us that he encouraged himself in the Lord and sought His guidance in prayer! (1 Samuel 30:6)
We all have those times when the road seems so painfully long, when we feel at the end of our own strength, when it seems that everything is stacked against us, in that desperate hour we need to take David’s example…
In a Question and Answer period, after a message delivered at Stanford University by Brother Brennan Manning on November 4, 1999, Brother Manning used the phrase, “I laid my head in an empty chair.” He then explained his use of the phrase.
Several years ago a woman approached him and asked him to visit her dying father and pray with him. He entered the man’s bedroom and found the man propped up on two pillows. The man was dying of cancer. Upon entering the room, Brother Manning noticed an empty chair next to the man’s bed. Assuming that it was placed there in anticipation of his visit, Brother Manning said, I see you are expecting me. The man answered him and said, “No, I wasn’t, who are you?”
Brother Manning identified himself and told him that he was there on the request of the man’s daughter. He also explained that upon seeing the empty chair next to his bed he assumed that it was for him. The man asked Brother Manning to please close the door and then he explained what the chair. The man explained that for years he had struggled with the concept of prayer. He never understood sermons concerning prayer and received no help when he turned to pastors for help. Therefore, out of frustration he abandoned prayer for many years.
Then just three years ago a friend explained that prayer was just talking to God. His friend suggested that he sit down in a chair and place an empty chair in front of him. His friend told him to imagine, by faith, Jesus sitting in the other chair and to just start talking to Him. The dying man confessed that he had been doing this two hours a day ever since. He admitted that he had to be careful that his daughter did not catch him talking to an empty chair.
Later that week the woman returned and told Brother Manning that her father had died. Brother Manning asked her if it appeared that he died peacefully. She related to him that he had told her one of his corny jokes and kissed her cheek and sent her off to the store on an errand. When she returned she discovered him dead. Then she admitted something strange, she found her father with his head resting in the empty chair beside his bed.
God is so precious! The Bible teaches;
The Lord is my shepherd [to feed, guide and shield me]; I shall not lack.
He makes me to lie down in (fresh, tender) green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
He refreshes and restores my life my self; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, uprightness and right standing with Him [not for my earning it, but] for His Name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the (deep, sunless) valley of the shadow of death, I fear or dread no evil; for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my (brimming) cup runs over.
Surely only goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life; and through the length of days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Psalm 23 (Amplified Old Testament)
Please, rest your head in an empty chair. Rest in the love of your Father; be at peace and have confidence in Him. He is Faithful and He is Just and His Mercies endure forever! He is Love! Out of Him flow all that is good, perfect, and nurturing. He is unchanging! He is motivated out of a pure and perfect love for us. Please lay your head in an empty chair, give God time to touch your life, you will experience the love of your Heavenly Father!
May the Lord be magnified!
Kenneth James Solheim Th.B.