IVP - Strangely Dim - You're Invited

June 13, 2008

You're Invited

Invitations are a funny thing. In the past few months, I've received formal wedding invitations, Facebook invitations to events and groups, and invitations to meals through email or in conversations.

I think for all of us, any invitation inevitably evokes a gut reaction: excitement, feeling honored and loved, nervousness, panic, dread, or a complicating mixture of these emotions. (If you're like me, you may also experience an emotion about your reaction--so, for instance, if you don't want to accept, you feel guilty that you don't want to go and badly that your reluctance overshadows the joy you should be feeling about the event. If you're not like me in this way, be thankful. It's exhausting.)

After the gut reaction, we start to form expectations surrounding the event. If the invitation allows us to be with and celebrate close friends, for example, we'll most likely look forward to it. If, however, we're only distantly connected to the inviter, we may feel nervous about being with people we don't know well (this is particularly terrifying for introverts). If the event will complicate our life significantly--whether financially with travel and gift expenses, or time-wise if it interferes with other responsibilities--we may feel overwhelmed at the thought of figuring out the details.

Whatever the event and whatever our reaction to the invitations we receive, three things are true: First, we have some kind of connection (however minor) with the person doing the inviting. The fact that we received an invitation from someone means they know we exist, they must not hate us (and in fact, probably like us!), and they believe our presence would add to the event. Second, in general the inviter is planning something they think will benefit or bless us, their guest; they hope we leave feeling like the event was worth our time and enjoyable. And third, we have to make a choice about whether or not we'll accept.

Invitations are on my mind because I've been copyediting a manuscript on group spiritual direction this week and am meeting with my own director this week. And spiritual direction has a lot to do with invitations. God, if you didn't know, is a great inviter. He loves to send us invitations every day.

When I sense his call--when I actually stop and still myself long enough to listen for and hear his invitation to me--I have a gut reaction, an expectation. Sometimes his invitation is to something so good that it causes me to marvel at his care. Other times what he's inviting me to looks so scary that I can't imagine saying yes. How I respond is up to me.

I've said no to God's invitations. And when it really comes down to it, my "no's" come out of my lack of faith in who he is; I get suspicious of his motives. Why are you inviting me, God? And why to that?

But when I accept his invitations, I see every time how good he is, how pure his motives and desires for me are, even when what he calls me to is hard or different than what I expected. Each time I say yes, I trust a little more that every invitation of his to me is all good, for my good, that I might know and live into and exclaim how good he is.

Today, tomorrow, next Wednesday, in the midst of my hope and fear, God offers me invitations if I will be still and listen: invitations to come to him, to rest in him, to serve in ways and places that fit who he's created me to be. He's inviting you too. We can help each other choose to say yes. Who knows? We might find ourselves at the same celebration.
Posted by Lisa Rieck at June 13, 2008 1:54 PM Bookmark and Share


Lisa - FYI, I just tagged you with a meme.

Comment by: Al Hsu at June 20, 2008 9:11 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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