Have you ever been stuck on a word? Stuck on a word in such a way that every time you aren’t fully engaged in something else you get back to thinking about that particular word? Yesterday I found myself stuck on the word ‘invitation’. ‘Invitation’ is a word that is connected to many of the significant moments in our lives. We receive invitations to baby showers, invitations to weddings, and invitations to graduation parties. Even funeral announcements are in essence an invitation as information in regard to times and places are announced so that people can gather together and remember the life of the deceased. None of these events would be what they are if it weren’t for the invitation. Imagine if someone were throwing a baby shower and planned the decorations, planned the games, and prepared the snacks, but in their busyness they forgot to actually invite people to be present? How ridiculous would that be?
As we inch closer to a brand new year I have to wonder if we don’t in many ways do something as ridiculous as forgetting to send out invitations. We make our plans for the upcoming year, we set our personal/financial/spiritual goals, and we consider what we want 2015 to look like, but in our haste we forget the most important part of the process: The invitations. Scripture is full of invitations and in the New Testament we see invitations offered by Jesus. “Follow me” is an invitation. “Come to me all who are weary and are burdened” is an invitation. When Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray he teaches them to send out an invitation. “Thy Kingdom come” is a prayer of invitation. Some invitations are ones that we send out and others are invitations that we respond to. Let me first focus on the invitations we send out.
For someone like me, guests showing up unannounced or uninvited is a huge stressor. I like to have everything straightened up and in it’s place even if it is just for a casual gathering with close friends who could care less if things are a bit messy. When I look back over the years I’m fairly confident that many of the most difficult things I have had to deal with did not show up uninvited. Directly or indirectly, actively or passively, I sent out an invitation that brought difficulty to my doorstep. The only thing worse than an unwelcome guest is an unwelcome guest you actually invited into your home. How many undesirable situations are having a negative impact on your lives and relationships? How many of them did you invite into the confines of your home and life?
What invitations are you responding to? Each day is filled with enticing offers that sound too good to be true because they probably are. We encounter invitations that promise much but provide little. We accept invitations that cost us much more than we thought they would. There are also plenty of invitations, even seemingly good invitations, that we should take a pass on. If you’re not careful you can have your time filled with ‘good’ things and have no room for the ‘God’ things. Is 2015 pre-occupied? Is it occupied in advance with your plans? If you really want to respond to the invitation of Jesus in 2015 you may need to clear up space in your life. That may mean some difficult choices. Are you willing to sacrifice good things for God things?
As we quickly approach 2015 I would encourage you to consider it a year of invitation. The invitations we send and the invitations we receive will have a tremendous impact on our year. Don’t wait until January 1st to send out your invitations. Start now! What things are you wanting to invite into your life? Into your relationships? Don’t just imagine the kind of year you want or the kind of person you want to be or the kind of relationships you want to nurture. Invite God’s Kingdom, with all of it’s power, into the fabric of your life. Thy Kingdom come. And as you pray that prayer of invitation, step forward in response to the invitation of Jesus. The invitation of Jesus isn’t deceptive. He doesn’t make false promises. In this world you will have trouble. However, His grace is sufficient for you and He invites you to follow.