God has been telling me that he is a God of invitation. I keep hearing this over and over from different sources. I have been reading through the Old Testament again and frankly, have never seen much invitation there. Lots of judgments, warnings, commandments, and visions, but very little invitation. But I decided to change my perspective and look at the character of God as he is revealed in the Old Testament through the eyes of invitation. Wow, that does change everything! Here are eight invitations that I found just this week and they so impacted me that I spoke about them on Sunday night at church.
1. PULL UP A CHAIR. Don't stay on the outskirts, just watching. Come in. Participate. Engage. Be more than an observer in the back row. Pull up a seat at the table, be a part of something, join the family meal. Be present. (I invited everyone to pull up a chair and sit around a large table.)
2. BURN YOUR PRIDE. Admit that we all need help. We are guilty. Stop justifying or explaining ourselves. Relying on our own abilities is not working. Our way is not best. Give up our pride, our need to be a success by our terms, to be someone that people like and look up to. We are guilty. We fall short. Let's just admit it so that we can get on with the real stuff, the good stuff. (I wrote PRIDE on a slip of paper and burned it in a small bowl on the table.)
3. TAKE A BATH. This life is messy. We get dirty. We are stained and impure. Bad things touch us and we touch bad things. Come for a bath. Get clean. Repent. Leave the dirt behind. Take a dip over and over and over again, as often as you need to. The water is always clean. Don't stay in the filth. Come clean. ( Sprinkles of water were dashed over people from a dish of water next to the burning bowl.)
4. LET ME BE YOUR GUIDE. Listen for God's voice. Let go of opinions and argument and chatter long enough to listen. Let HIS words be a light for our path. If you can't see, ask. Listen. Hear. Wait on God. Seek out the words of life. (I lit a candle and set it next to the water bowl.)
5. TASTE AND SEE THAT GOD IS GOOD. Partake of Jesus. Become his disciple. Do what he does. Let Him give you strength and life to do more than you ever thought you could. Hang out with Him. Rely on Him. Try the things He does, do them with Him. Participate in the life of Jesus. He gave his life so that you could do this. (I had a freshly baked loaf of bread that I passed around for everyone to have a bite, then set the rest down across from the candle.)
6. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS GOD. Express yourself to him without holding back. Be generous with yourself and your resources. Bring your whole self - whatever state you are in, and honour God with your gifts of songs, words, deeds, dances, your whole body. Give it your all. (I lit some incense to represent our worship and set it beside the loaf.)
7. COME CLOSER. There is discomfort in intimacy. Being known fully can be scary. Being vulnerable is like being naked and often we are ashamed. Choose to take a step closer to God, choose trusting Him, loving Him, relying on Him, believing Him, even when you can't see Him or see what He is doing. In every situation, don't pull back, don't hesitate, but come close. Don't be separated anymore. (I tore a red napkin in half and laid it on the table next to the incense.)
8. WILL YOU MARRY ME? Covenant is the strongest bond. Stronger than family, than money or debt. Stronger than fear, stronger than death, stronger than all other demands on our lives. Jesus wants to be with us, to draw us into His circle, to change everything in our world until it becomes His world that we both dwell in. He wants to change our name, the household we belong to. Will we move to His place and become part of Him? (I set a small box with a ring inside it at the end of the table.)
Then I drew some lines on the table - one to include all the items, one to include the last five items, and then one to separate the last item within those. I had someone draw a door at one end next to the burning bowl and asked if anyone recognised this. It is the tabernacle of the Old Testament and its elements.
Son of man, tell the people of Israel all about the temple so they'll be dismayed by their wayward lives. Get them to go over the layout. That will bring them up short. Show them the whole plan of the Temple, its ins and outs, the proportions, the regulations, and the laws. Draw a picture so they can see the design and meaning and live by its design and intent. This is the law of the Temple: As it radiates from the top of the mountain, everything around it becomes holy ground. Yes, this is law, the meaning, of the Temple. From Ezekiel 43, The Message.
(Sorry about the repitition of some things here, but these are the things God is speaking to me about these days and as they ruminate about in my soul , I see different aspects of their truth.)
This is me at some waterfall in Ontario just over a year ago, trying to decide if I wanted to climb closer to the water. I did. Photo credit to Jaclyn.