Wednesday, September 29, 2010
You are cordially invited
Oh the elation we receive from an invitation and the barriers we established from the lack there of. An invitation births inclusion, assurance, confidence, and a renewed sense of hope.
I remember crying in the back of my dad’s truck on the way home from high school because I was not invited, or so I told myself. I felt sad and hopeless. I could have walked up to the group of girls and joined them, yet I did not. They did not think to extend an invitation (which is a typical innocence) therefore I inferred they did not want to extend an invitation. So often I make assumptions based on the insecure whispers of my flesh. Fast forward to college. Instinctively I make preparations to again be the sad and hopeless girl crying in the back of my dad’s truck. Before I could crawl into my slimy pit (Ps. 40), a friend extended an invitation to me. The invitation was simple, yet meaningful, and would be instrumental in my life. From her invitation, I was able to receive many more invitations, and I also extended many more invitations. One day I am crying as a school kid, the next day (not literally) I am surrounded at prom by friends. One moment I am ready to find a new community, impatient for God’s blessing (Ps. 27:14), the next I am distracted by friends as I struggle to study in the library. Even with an invitation, I still struggled in making friends. And, even without an invitation, I was blessed with friends (Lam 3:22-24).
While compiling the invitation list for our wedding, I learned how some invitations, though self-evident still need to be proclaimed. I thought it was a matter of fact that our wedding party and intimate family members were invited to our wedding. Still I was instructed to send wedding invitations to each. Though the invitations were crafted on my parent’s kitchen table, with their names neatly printed on the stationary, it was important that an invitation be individually addressed and delivered to them. Expectations and assumptions can lead to misjudgments and miscommunications, which can lead to hurts and hang-ups. It can be painfully annoying to repeatedly remind a person of your desire to include them in your life. But, the word remembrance (Is. 46) draws me to recall the countless ways God pursues me, even after I received salvation, which he does not consider painfully annoying. If you have a way to extend an invitation, I’d encourage you to use it (Heb. 12:14).
Later, while on a jog, I thought about the daunting task of inviting people to a wedding. I was half-way down the street when I came to a realization. My rhymed breathing and motion abruptly halted. In the middle of the street, in front of an unknown neighbor’s house tears trickled down my face. Drafting the invitation list had made me worry about who would and wouldn’t attend our wedding. Then, I remembered my father in heaven, who had not yet received an individual invitation to my wedding. If my earthly parents, who were responsible for many aspects of the wedding, still deserved a personal invitation, why would I stop with them and not reach up to my heavenly father? Immediately I extended Him an invitation. Even quicker, he spoke an affirmation. This exchange birthed a peace that I have been told is rare for a bride to experience (Matthew 28). Humanity may or may not accept your invitation(s), for a right or wrong reason. When the time comes to reach out to others, make it a point to follow God no matter their response (Romans 8). God wants to walk with you down the path of righteousness. He will be apart of anything on that path. You don’t need to invite him to your wedding, or whatever else, but why not?
It is important to extend invitations. And, while it is so encouraging to be invited, do not be overcome by the emotions that arise from the lack of invitations. Be wise and dwell on truth. Don’t build barriers that will hinder God’s blessings. (Rom. 12:2)
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands for incense. You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses. "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.