Friday, September 16, 2011

An invitation

Every year at the ministry kick off in September, Trinity hosts a 24/7 church wide prayer time where members take an hour at a time to come and pray for the new year.  Last year when we did this, to be completely transparent, I was less than excited. In fact, the whole deal sounded really, ...well, ... like it wouldn't be my new favorite thing. I was greatly mistaken. What a gift to quietly press in alone with God. Fastest hour ever. This year I eagerly signed up for a slot.

We have a prayer room here that has been beautifully and carefully thought out. There are 8-10 stations that give directions and instructions for how and what to pray if you should choose to use them. The first is a praise stop. My favorite. My heart lingers here a while.

The second is a confession station that is set up with paper and a leading prayer to write out any thing the Holy Spirit may be speaking to your heart. There is also a 'Paid In Full' red stamp and a paper shredder to the right to lead you in the truth of God's word that promises forgiveness with confession.  The instructions at this table are topped with the following verse:
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall become white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool." Isaiah 1:18
My eyes read this verse so fresh and new. Did the Maker of heaven and earth really just invite me to come and reason with Him?

Maybe reason doesn't mean what I think it means. says when used as a verb reason means:
     ~to think or argue in a logical manor;
     ~to form conclusions, judgments or facts
     ~to urge reasons which should determine a belief or action.

Nope, it does mean what I think it means. How could the God of the universe, the omniscient, the omnipresent, the all powerful I AM ask me to reason with him? What does that look like? How does that happen? What does that mean?

Who am I that I could argue with God, or lead him to a conclusion that he himself has not thought of. Do I really think that I could change God's mind? That he would relent the things he has defined as sin and somehow I'd be "off the hook"?

No. Quite the contrary. As I sat and pondered these thoughts, it occurred to me it is exactly the opposite. It's not his mind that needs to be changed, it's mine. God is very secure in who he is. Don't be mistaken, He is fully confident and competent in being God. He will not change his mind on what he has deemed holy and what he has not. But it is that very fact of him being settled in himself, and with himself, that enables him to not be threatened, rattled or have to be defensive with me.

In other words, my sin, my messes, my stuff doesn't change the fact that he is who he says he is. And it is because of the fact that he doesn't change his mind about my sinful nature that gives him authority to invite me in to look at things from his perspective. He knows what a holy life looks like. And he knows that on my own, I'll never attain it. And the scriptures teach that it's his kindness that allows me his captive audience.

He knows the damage that sin does to us. He understands the pain and brokenness that come from it. He is acutely aware of the suffering and choking isolation that sin brings upon a life. It is this very understanding that moves his heart to extend an invitation to me that says 'Come, wrestle this out with me. I'm a safe place. I will not humiliate and exploit you over this. No, I will teach you and show you why this is not for you. Let me give you an understanding of what it is I have for you. Cleanliness. Righteousness. Holiness."

I was reminded of a few other places in scripture of God inviting us to come to him.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" Genesis 3:9 
Come to me all who labor and are weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. Hebrew 4:16

This is such a different picture than the warped and distorted view of God I have sometimes. What a gentle invitation. "Come, talk with me. Come walk with me. Come, let me help you."

It is certainly not at the exemption of consequences or discipline, but oh how the heart remembers a lesson when guilt is recognized and acknowledged and then grace is given and received.

This is what it is to be known and to be loved.
This is an experience of love that casts out fear of punishment.
This is what it is to be refreshed.
This is the invitation, "Come."

No comments:

Leelou Blogs
Blog Widget by LinkWithin