What an awesome moment when one’s heart yields to the invitation of God and sets out on the greatest journey of all with the Creator of the Cosmos! We each are invited to be counted among such great ones as Abraham to whom God said, “Go… to the land that I will show you” (from Genesis 12:1); Samuel, called by name by God in the deep watches of the night, “Samuel! Samuel!” (1 Samuel 3:4, 6, 8, & 10); and that also of Andrew and Simon Peter (Matthew 4:19).
All He asks is that we listen to His call and respond with trusting obedience. Not easy? Of course not! We are constantly accosted with great dragons of fear. We fear losing control of our lives! We fear ridicule! We fear disappointment! We fear missing out on things offered in life! All too often, poisoned by our circumstances and by corrupt philosophies, we even fear Him, the One true God and the only hope for the world! “What if,” we wonder, “He leads me into a trap?” “How can I tell,” we ponder, “if He’ll take care of me and/or my family?” “Perhaps,” we muse, “it’s all just a bunch of make-believe.”
And to complicate things further, the world incessantly broadcasts to us its static and aims its deadly barrage of conflicting messages as it contradicts the promises of the King of kings! How it flashes its shiny and flamboyant “trinkets” in front of us, elaborating in graphic detail what we might never have and never see should we choose to follow the Good Shepherd. Of course, all the while it floods us with counter-offers to Jesus, it never mentions what we will miss having in eternity nor what we’ll miss seeing in the hereafter if we don’t accept the Father’s invitation in Christ Jesus. In fact, it also conveniently leaves out what we’re missing out on in the “here-and-now” as we live life without His guidance and His provision of joy, peace and victory to sustain us.
It’s a dangerous and too often an eternally fatal business to spurn the invitation of God, an invitation, one might add, that was arranged at an inconceivable cost to God Himself as He offered His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our failures, our selfishness, our neglect, our hate, our lust, our greed, our bitterness and our despair. Sin could not be easily defeated but it was thoroughly defeated as Jesus breathed His last on the coarse and rough wood of the cross.
We have therefore a magnificent invitation to know God, written out not with gold ink, but with His own blood. It is no small mistake to turn on ones’ heel and walk away from that invitation when it is offered. Nor is it wise to seek after other “avenues and routes” than the one that cost Him everything as He yielded His own Son for us.
So what must we do and what must we NOT do? Well, first we must be resolved in our hearts to not receive God’s “grace in vain!” After all, He has richly blessed us and this is the “day of salvation.”
“Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV).
And when I consider the immensity of His having secured for us so wonderful a future with Him, I am reminded too of how precious a gift it is and what it cost Him to provide it for me and others!
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:20b).
Since He did indeed die for me, I will truly seek to live for Him! “Yes, Lord. That’s right. I’d like to RSVP to the special invitation that You sent my way. Please count me in. Take me where You want me.”
How tragic that some to whom the offer has been given, will not take Him up on His offer. They will be like those mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 22:1-14 who have been invited to a wedding feast but prove too self-absorbed to respond. In the end, none of the fancy invitees show up but their places are filled anyway with those who aren’t duped into thinking that what they have is somehow superior and that what He offers is insufficient.
“…Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Jesus replies in Matthew 22:14. What is the distinction between those invited and those who were chosen? Only that some among the invited responded to the invitation with obedient faith, and some did not. Faith that moves your feet to set out on the journey of life with Him is the right kind of faith. Faith that causes you to set your hands to the work of productive endeavors that build the kingdom of God is a pleasing kind of faith to the heart of God. Faith that tames the tongue so that it is not an instrument of hurt but of love, respect and wisdom is the kind of faith that transforms lives and brings hope to those who desperately need it.
So what must you do to join God in the journey? Just respond as Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” Better yet, don’t just wait for God to hopefully do something in your life without beginning the process of “pursuing” God’s will. Seek to be like David, who was “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Pursue the heart of God, chase after the will of the Father for your life and watch as He blesses your life with meaning, fulfillment, direction and provision for your needs!
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).