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Intentional Invitations

A couple of friends I know threw one of their annual parties recently. I’ve known them for years, and even though I haven’t made the last couple of events, I usually get the nod.

The interesting thing is this year I didn’t get invited, at least not directly.

Now, I know these two. We all met while starting a singles/twenty/thirtysomethings ministry back in the days of Y2K. We just came back from a whirlwind trip through the Holy Land (along with 30 others from my church). Needless to say, we’ve all been friends a long time.

So this year rolls around, and suddenly all these mutual friends of ours start asking, "Are you going Saturday?" "Will I see you there?” etc. Painted into an awkward situation, and not wanting anyone else to feel awkward about it, I’d smile & try to play it off—never mind that there’s no earthly way to get the whole of our church into their two-bedroom apartment. After all, I did have a work function (right around the corner from them) that same evening, so I might not even be available.

Those trusted few I did tell about not being invited responded compassionately that it was surely an oversight; after all, the invitations were hand-delivered Sundays after church and were likely handed out to those they ran into as they moved around the campus. This certainly rang true based on previous events, and I have to admit that of late I have so much on my plate that most Sundays I rarely get to interact with anyone at all.

Even so, the more I was asked about it, the more left out I felt. I am the youngest of four children born to parents with very old-school New England sensibilities. Translation: thank-you notes, hostess gifts and R.S.V.P.s are staples of their lives, and they would never dream of showing up at a party without some kind of verbal or written invite directly from the host or hostess. That just isn’t done.

Now, I don’t live in New England, and, even if I did, today’s lines of “proper” etiquette have blurred considerably. In Los Angeles, at least, the R.S.V.P. is all but extinct, and blame it on email or whatever, but I’m just not as consistent with mailing or delivering those thank you notes or other correspondence as I’d like to be. That being said, one of the things my parents did manage to instill in me was an aversion to party crashing.

I don’t arrive at an event uninvited unless accompanying someone who was directly invited. No matter what I think I know about the person or our relationship, I choose not to make assumptions. Most of my friends think this a ridiculous notion. I started to realize that all of this was hitting on personal insecurities, and I started thinking:

If God doesn’t enter a heart, a life, a home uninvited … should we?

He already knows who will choose Him, but He waits for us to ask. Each and every time, He wants to hear us say it. It’s not about ego; it’s not about worth. The Lord knows His value, but He knows that we need to recognize it for ourselves and then choose.

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Too often we (both saved and unsaved alike) take our Lord for granted. I wonder if we somehow liken Him to that faithful but awkward girl or boy we knew in school. The one who might’ve had a crush on us, and we knew we could always depend on them because they were always waiting for us to wake up and notice them. It’s as if we want God around, but only if He’s on our schedule.

The difference is that we often let others’ distractions or oversights erode the confidence we have in our relationships, but God never does. He always knows our heart; He knows the moment we will finally stop striving or running and open the door to His knock. Our inability or unwillingness to call on Him never sends Him into a frenzy of low self worth or criticism. He is the same. Yesterday. Today. Forever.

If only we—okay, I—could be as secure in our own relationships! That we could remember that God created us in His own image and trust that we are valued—by Him and by others—simply for that truth. I want to see with God’s eyes and hear with His heart and share with others to always be confident in His faithfulness and love, despite circumstances. Like Jesus, I want to be about my (Heavenly) Father’s business.

I never made it to my friends’ party. I almost went, but found myself engaging in some wonderful divine appointments that night with co-workers. I realized how good God is and how funny he can be sometimes. You see, given the choice between hanging with unbelievers at an open-bar event or strong Christian friends for food, fellowship and dancing, I’ll choose the Christians almost every time. Knowing this, God allowed my feelings to be temporarily wounded just to help me make a decision, which better suited His purpose for that evening. After all, Jesus tells us it’s not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I thought I needed to be with my friends, but God needed me at that office party more.

My friends’ shindig was a big success (as usual)—but they said they missed me that night. I told them I had hoped to swing by after making an appearance at my work function, but then got sidetracked by some things God was doing there. Seeds were planted in the lives of unbelievers that night, and I got to bear witness and even play a small part in that. Maybe I missed out on my friend’s invitation, but God made sure I didn’t miss His.

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