Inviting comes more naturally to some people than others and I am not always very good at it. As an introvert, sometimes I am not even aware of my desire for connection until someone offers a genuine "why don't you join us!" and I feel invited. This is exactly how my 13 years friendship with Gina began. I was intentionally forcing myself out of my (tiny) comfort zone and I went in to a room full of strangers to check out the Bible studies being offered at my new church in my new town. I honestly don't remember which study I chose, but I do remember the genuine welcome I received to join the group Gina was facilitating. It took some years to grow the friendship between us, but I always credit that simple invitation as the place it began.
Although I unfortunately have not been gifted a deep level of comfort being the invit-er, I have been given a Holy-Spirit led push to invite and share what I have learned about having an ongoing relationship with Jesus. Take a look at the words of Jesus from Revelations 3:20
Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus is already there waiting, but we have to do something about it if we want to know his presence. We need to listen for him to speak, be willing to open the door, and invite him to our table. Renowned author and pastor Henri Nouwen said Jesus never forces himself on us, and without an invitation he will remain a stranger to us and go on to other places. The idea that Jesus, who is always ready to meet us right where we are, actually awaits our invitation is deeply humbling.
Being invitational is not a one time endeavor like a hosting an event that we can be relieved about surviving after its over. Once we invite Jesus into our lives we will likely be called to invite more deeply at times and places where we have not tidied up or prepared for company. If we embrace the idea that he is on our side and desires to be welcomed in to all areas of our lives, we are able to receive his presence, reassurance, and guidance in times of uncertainty.
For me, being willing to invite Jesus into the dark spaces in my life led to healing and transformation of my brokenness. It has also led me to this passion to share what he had done in my life and what he is willing to do in yours if you will ask. It all starts with a simple invitation, so I ask you, will you come?