By Invitation Only

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I’ve once heard it said that you don’t fully belong to a community until you’ve been to at least one wedding and one funeral. I don’t know if that’s true of everyone’s experience, but I do remember the day we received our first invitation to a wedding. It was to celebrate the wedding of the daughter of our small-town mayor.  It was mailed and sent directly to us. Inviting us. Welcoming us. Including us. I remember feeling deeper in connection in our small community with that beautiful envelope in my hands. We warmly accepted the invite and had a wonderful time.

Invitations are wonderful things to receive, whether it is to a dance in school or to a birthday party as a child or to any of the hundreds of celebrations that happen all around us. Invitations communicate to the recipient that they are welcomed and it is the inviter’s desire for the guest’s attendance and presence. We want you to be there, it tells us. More than that, an invitation tells us about the giver and the guest.

The one who extends the invitation cares about the guest.  The invitation is offering something special - hospitality, celebration, enjoyment, a party! There is a cost but the giver is the one who absorbs the cost of money and time to plan and prepare. However, the giver does not complain because they WANT the guest to be there. The celebration would not be the same if the guest was absent. The guest on the other hand is simply the recipient of the giver’s love. They have done nothing to warrant the invitation. It all comes from the giver. The invitation reflects the relationship between the giver and the guest. The giver extends themselves towards the guest and asks only for their presence and to share in the joy and celebration of the giver.

In the Bible, found in the book of Romans, there’s a small but very important phrase nestled in verse 30. Inside the lengthy and articulate verse, we stumble across the small phrase, “and He also called”. The commentary in the NASB translates “called” to the word invited. God has invited us to a life saved of sin, which is amazingly enough, but there is so much more! Romans writes we are also invited to a life of predestination to conformity to His Son. To be justified. Ultimately, glorified. All because of His Son, we are invited (called) into the beautiful redemption story.

Like the invitations we receive on special occasions from family and friends, there is another Giver. It is God Himself. He is the One who invites. We are the receivers of that invitation, but not just as guests; we become His family. God wants us to know life, now and into eternity. He wants us to join with Him as He continually extends His love to the world. He has paid for a grand celebration to restore relationship with His greatest love - us. He has paid for it through the blood of His Son, Jesus - paid in full. God asks us to bring nothing, not that we have anything to bargain with anyway, but to simply receive the invitation by faith in humility and gratefulness. Invitations reflect the Giver. He is a God of mercy and amazing grace.

So how are we to respond to such an invitation? Well, that’s probably the most amazing part of it. God leaves the RSVP up to us. It is up to us as to what we will do with His invitation and the price it cost to pay for it.

Revelation 3:20 beautifully depicts His call,

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” NASB

So again, I ask the question. How are we to respond to such an invitation?

How could we possibly refuse?

Mary Quillin is a city-girl-turned-country-girl in her new life in North Dakota. She has been married to her hubby for 16 years and has 3 wonderfully, different kids who have begun their teen years (and she would appreciate all the prayers as possible on that note). After many years in full time ministry, Mary is learning how to show up and daily discover the journey of being available for whatever Jesus leads her to. She spends her days trying to build a welcoming shabby chic home in the heartland of North Dakota while learning to write and run.