Today I invited someone to our church. Being a pastor’s wife, I tend to assume people will think I invite them because I should, like it’s my job or something. That being said, I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got today.
I was ordering a coffee and the young woman at the counter handed me a cup and just smiled. I stood with my card in hand, ready to swipe, but she only smiled and said, “enjoy your day.” I was so surprised and thankful. We began chatting and I handed her a card with our church information on it. At that she smiled even bigger and told me, “I’ve been looking for a church.” Our conversation continued for a few minutes and I walked away different.
Feeling invited is like being accepted, but on a higher level. It is evidence that we are wanted; someone is pursuing our presence. Getting an invitation that you know was out of obligation doesn’t really count, does it?
I can’t get over the fact that God, the creator and sustainer of life, invites me to come hang out with Him. What? If you have ever felt rejected, unwanted, or uninvited, rest assured that Jesus has promised never to forsake you. He has chosen to invite you, include you, pursue you, and enjoy you. It wasn’t something you had to earn, so it’s not something you can lose. It’s based on what Jesus did, not what you did.
Psalm 23 has been a passage of comfort spoken at funerals, but it was actually written for the living. It’s a vivid picture of intimacy and invitation. Remember too that it was written by a guy who screwed up in a big way. David wrote Psalm 23 describing the lavish love God has for us. As you read it, you find out that our heavenly Father provides for us in beautiful ways.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I have faced some ugly forms of rejection, even from other believers. I have found myself alone, wanting desperately to be wanted. Even in Christian circles, I have felt the sting of being excluded. But you know, God has used those experiences to draw me closer to him. He has let me taste of his goodness and see is faithfulness, and he has assured me that I am welcome in his presence just as I am.
For someone who has suffered deep rejection, an invitation can seem too good to be true. Rejection can leave us believing that we are not enough. So when David writes about a banquet table that the Lord has prepared in our honor, we hesitate to accept that invitation. We don’t feel deserving, worthy, or acceptable. Yet, it’s a beautiful picture of the grace of Jesus. His detailed care of us, the way he shepherd our hearts and delights in us. Psalm 23 is basically assuring us of God’s amazingly personal pursuit of us. He cares for our every need and then throws us a party, filling our cup until it overflows.
In a world where invitations are rare (aside from a Facebook group) and life is spinning way too fast to slow down long enough to ask us what we need, we need to be reminded that our Father has set a place for us, that he has invited us to join him in fellowship. We are wanted, accepted, and invited.
I hope you are saying yes to his invitation to intimacy with him, and I pray that you are extending that invitation to the world around you, opening your arms and heart in acceptance. Invite someone to join you at His table.