I Wasn’t invited

I often wonder how I got into the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, in gatherings with fine, upstanding, righteous people, I feel like the guy with a huge pimple on the end of his nose.  People are nice but they can’t help but stare.

Jesus followed up. “Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food’s on the table.’ ‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭MSG‬‬

The invited guests appear to be the “in crowd” in this story.  They were the accepted, the cool.

One problem, when it came time to feast, they didn’t want to eat.  They were too cool to go to the feast.

But, our King, our Master, knows how cool He is.  He knows the value of the feast He is setting before the world.  He doesn’t meet their standards, we meet His.

“The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.’”  Luke‬ ‭14:21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

This is my crowd.  The ones who can’t say anything, do anything right.  The ones who don’t fit in. The ones who are broken, hungry, whose dreams have been reduced to getting something to eat.

“The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:23-24‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Yep!  And I’m the kind that has to be dragged in.  Too fearful, too broken to accept God’s love, His generous love for me, I would run and hide rather than run to His banquet.

My God, my King, my Love found me, dragged me, clothed me in His splendor and sat me down so I could eat.  And, from time to time, He goes and finds me, drags me back to His table again.  He reminds me who I am, where I now belong and we eat together.

I was not invited.

Oh, but I am loved.  I am accepted.

I am wanted.  I am needed.  I am loved.

we tend to perceive our world and respond to it within certain constructs.  Even within the extremes of pessimism and optimism there are variations in how we receive and disseminate information.

I was praying for our kid’s ministry the other day when, out of the blue, God says to me, “You are operating under lies.  Change your perspective.  Say, I am wanted.  I am needed.  I am loved.”  So I repeated what He said to me.  He said to say it louder.  It was like a movie.

I tend toward looking at myself as ugly, fat, untalented, ridiculous.  I tend toward seeing people respond to me as someone they don’t really like, an unessential part of the whole.  I tend to see my gifts as weak, ineffective, silly.  And at least on the surface, that would appear to be the truth.

But God’s Kingdom is so different than we perceive.  He wants a relationship with all people, to love them and be loved by them.  He created each of us as unique individuals that bring a wide variety of responses to the needs and issues of this world.  And the world needs us.  They need us whole, redeemed by Jesus’ blood, forgiven and able to forgive, broken and healed, finite and foolish.  In all of our specific, ridiculous, amazing idiosyncrasies, we are sent to bear His name.

So maybe the Piston’s don’t need me as a starting forward.  Maybe the New York Philharmonic doesn’t need me as their principal hornist.  But the factory where I work, the church where I serve, the family that I lead, the God that I love wants me, needs me, loves me.

Say it with me.

I am wanted.

I am needed.

I AM LOVED!

“All Things Work Together…”

What a crock!

I know it’s scripture but, seriously, what a crock.

Raised in an abusive, dysfunctional home.  Molested as a child, repeatedly.  Bullied, ridiculed, demeaned.  Rejected by many that I needed, really, truly needed to be loved by.  Marginalized by the church as a rebel.  Looked down on for how I question things, the questions that I ask, the inherent flaws that must be present in a person who questions God.  Every time I asked for something, it either came across as being arrogant, thinking I deserved it, or as weak, lacking confidence.  So many opportunities stripped away, even when I had the necessary skills, the drive to do what needed done, all because of some ambiguous, not-the-right-fit kind of reason.

“More than conquerors…”

Really?

Broke all the time.  Can’t sell a book.  Can’t buy a full-time ministry position.  My job doesn’t like me.  I can’t get promoted.  I’m not even sure my wife and kids like me most of the time.

Now maybe, no one who reads this can relate to what I’m saying.  But, I bet, if you look down deep, everyone one of you has had questions, doubts about the validity of the two scriptures that I quoted.

Is God working all things together for my good?

My heart breaks over the abuse of children, sex-trafficking of people, slavery, bullying, loneliness.  I can’t see a person sitting alone in a room without wondering what’s going on inside them.  When I hug the son of a single mom, I want them to know that they are loved, they matter, they are not rejected.  When I pray, I hear the voice of my Father, my Daddy as His great, loving heart weeps over the brokenness of this world.

Through addiction and defeat I have seen the power, the relentless juggernaut of God’s passion for the healing, restoration, discipline and release of His warriors.  I have tasted His desire for all people to be free.  FREE!  Not bound by rules and decrees.  Not robots with mindless movements and subjugated wills.  FREE and ALIVE human beings.

And I have found freedom.  I have come to see the walls torn down, the strongholds broken, the infections lanced, drained and healed.  I have seen my heart of stone restored to a heart of flesh.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

It is true.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

IT IS TRUE!

All because HE LOVES US!!