You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5
I could relate to King David. Judy and I decided to make a return visit to North Georgia recently. We discovered this gem of a place in July on our way to spend a few days with our family in Florida. We picked this area as a stopover on the way and it was just a tremendous area to explore. We enjoyed some great hiking, waterfalls, and other beautiful places where God just showed off His creation. It was so good…we decided on a return visit. We made reservations for November because we knew we would be spending some time with family again—this time in Pigeon Forge. Toccoa, the town where we stay, was just three hours south of there so it was a great opportunity to return.
Once again we found the area just full of great places to visit. Incredible trails and waterfalls seemed to be around every curve. Amazing. Another novelty of the area is the fact that it is close to a couple of other states. It is very close to one in particular. That would be South Carolina. In fact, it wasn’t just close to South Carolina, it just happened to be very close to Clemson…home of, you guessed it, Clemson University.
To most, Clemson is just another fine southern university. But for me, and for many, it is something else. Clemson is famous for its football team, famous for winning the national championship (January 2020) and finally, famous for beginning and remaining number one in the national ranks for the 20-21 football season. That is, until they met Notre Dame. If you read my stories, you probably know that this is one Baptist preacher who likes, no, loves Notre Dame football. Some things transcend denominations!
A couple of weeks before our trip to North Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson collided on the gridiron. After two overtimes the game ended with the Fighting Irish defeating Clemson. How sweet it was. So, when I found myself right next door to South Carolina, and despite the fact that it was close to the home of Clemson University, we decided it would be a great place to take a hike. I did however decide it wouldn’t be wise to wear my Notre Dame hoodie. You know, just to be safe. Wisdom. We went hiking in a place called Brasstown Falls and the falls were amazing. How can something that beautiful be so close to Clemson?
Since it was past lunch time, we decided to go ahead and eat while we were in the area. We drove a little closer and found ourselves about ten minutes from their campus. We were literally in their backyard. I was incognito—you know, undercover, but I wanted so bad to tell our server that I was a Notre Dame fan. I wanted to kinda, sorta, pour some salt in her football wound but I did resist. I wasn’t being humble, I was just afraid she might sabotage my food. You see, football is serious business in this neck of the woods. Turns out, she was a great server and we had a delicious meal, which, in spite of the “danger” of being in enemy territory, we greatly enjoyed. We finished and then we escaped back across the border.
So, that’s why I kinda felt like King David in the Bible. You see, he was the arch enemy of the guy who was currently king, and who wanted to do him in. The deal was that God had anointed David to be King while Saul, the other guy, was still in office. It was pretty dicey. But David knew one thing…God was greater than Saul or anyone else for that matter. He was so sure of it he would later write something that became pretty famous—the 23rd Psalm. In that Psalm, David talked about how God had prepared a table for him to eat right in the presence of his enemies. How could that be? I mean I would have indigestion knowing my enemy was right there. But not David. Do you know why? The bottom line is that David was sure that he was safe anywhere because God was in control. God.Was.In.Control.
Now I know I was in absolutely no danger in Clemson’s backyard, but I am also sure I would have gotten some stares if I had worn my Notre Dame colors. But what about other times? What about unemployment times? What about COVID times? What about high stress times? What about “I’m sorry to tell you but…” times? Well, let me tell you what I know. God would be there and God will be there. We don’t have to worry—we don’t have to fret.
I don’t know if God prefers Notre Dame over Clemson or if He even likes football, but I do know that He loves me and He loves you. He has this incredible plan for His kids and when we are within the will of His plan…well, it is a great, safe place to be. We can sit down in the presence of those who would harm us or things that could destroy us and rest and know that He watches over us. I like that. I know that whatever tomorrow holds, He is already there. I can sit down and eat a big old meal right across from the Clemson football team in my blue and gold and rest in Him because I know, “He’s got this.”