I read a familiar story today and saw something new in it. I was reading Luke 14:16-24. That is where Jesus tells the parable about a man who organizes a magnificent dinner party and all the important people he invited send their regrets because they were too busy to attend. Since plans had already been made and the food had already been prepared, the man invited the all the unimportant people, the dirty people, the outcasts, the undeserving. This is, as we know, a metaphor for our invitation from Christ. Previously, I read this story and thought the moral was about humility. Those prideful, arrogant, busy people: don’t be them. I suppose I wasn’t completely off track because I was reminded anew today of what a low life I really am . My sin is so big, so constant, so exhausting. It is easy to get caught up in false humility and wallow around in my weakness feeling sorry for myself. I think we generally kinda like to get stuck on the you-can’t-save-yourself part of Ephesians 2:8, but today, through this parable, I was reminded not to stop there but to focus on the gift of grace part and to rejoice in it.
I was reminded that God doesn’t just want the shiny, honor-roll aspects of my life. He knows I’m not perfect. ”It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9:11-13) He doesn’t just want to see me come before Him in my Sunday best, all dressed up, fresh and smiley. Jesus wants me to come to Him in my less glamorous hours. He wants me to call out to Him when my face is tear stained with Alice Cooper mascara. He wants my raw spirit and broken heart. He wants my blood stained hands. He wants me to come before Him this way because only He can really save me. Anybody can rescue someone who isn’t drowning, where is the glory in that? Our God desires to rescue us when we really need it. He wants me to cry out for Him in desperation. Over and over we have examples in the Bible of people pleading with God, especially in the Psalms, “But I am in pain and despair; lift me up, O God, and save me!” (Psalm 69:29), “Listen to me, Lord, and answer me, for I am helpless and weak.” (Psalm 86:1), “Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!” (Psalm 109:26),
Yes, of course He wants me to offer the good stuff too (singing in Church on Sundays, bringing meals to the hungry, taking care of the poor), but what He desires more is to rescue the lost cause in me. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17), “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice” (Matthew 12:7) God wants me to hurl myself into His arms, recklessly, because then He can really catch me! He wants me to run to Him so He can welcome me with open arms. He wants me to arrive hungry so He can furnish a magnificent feast to fill me up. He wants me to come tired so He can show me the most comfortable place to rest. Essentially, He wants me to worship in His home and at His table and not at any one or any thing elses (Deuteronomy 4:24) This is the only way to be truly saved, to be truly safe and to be honestly fearless. Believe, REALLY believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). Surrender yourself to give Glory to the Almighty God, “There is no god like you, O Lord, not one has done what you have done. All the nations that you have created will come and bow down to you; they will praise your greatness. You are mighty and do wonderful things; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:8-10)
This is crazy good news! We, the losers, the lame, the dirty, the unable, the lost causes, the scum of the earth — God WANTS to save us! Everyone is invited. Seerveld calls it preposterous truth (page 133)! You are encouraged to come and to lay everything out, and to sign over your life, your sin, your heart, your grief, your soul to the One Who Made It. Give this all to The Only One Who Can Cure You and when He does (and He will) sing about it to thank Him! Surely, this is no easy task, to surrender everything, but no matter how difficult it is — He promises that it will be worth it. Your joy will be full and peace steadfast.
Are you broken? Are you lonely? Are you hopeless? Do you want to feel truly loved, because God is ready to be your constant companion, healing you, directing your feet and always, always, always loving you.