The Power of an Invitation
There’s something about an invitation that makes an otherwise ordinary event seem special. I don’t know what it is except for some reason it makes me feel special or wanted. As if my presence is going to make the difference in how the event will turn out. Therefore, I take personal invites seriously. I never think that the invite was just to make up the numbers or that I was an afterthought. I am one of those who believe that the invitation was intentional and with a specific purpose in mind. So it bothers me deeply whenever I cannot oblige. I do not want things to go askew simply because I had to decline an invitation. This is not to imply that I think that I am all of that. I am simply saying if someone has reserved a seat at the table with your name on it, who wouldn’t feel special?
On the other hand, please do not invite me if you don’t really want me there. Don’t invite me just to be polite or politically correct. Don’t invite me if you are not going to let me do what I was invited to do. If my presence is unnecessary, so let it be.
Now allow me to tell you what this whole rant is about. I was faced with a moment of self-examination when I extended an invitation to the Holy Spirit during one of my regular mornings of prayer and devotion. Below is the text of scripture that caused this stirring and pondering in my soul.
Psalm 139:23-24 TPT - 23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart,
examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting way—
the path that brings me back to you.
Mind you, I have read this particular text of scripture more times than I can count. I have read it in every translation that you can imagine except this one!! Immediately my soul said to me, “Are you really sure you want to invite Holy Spirit in to do all of that?” “Do you want His input in all that you do?”
I am ashamed to admit that I had to give it some thought. Yes, Lord was not my initial response. In fact, I grabbed a few other translations of the Bible that seemed less painful and invasive. I knew of some things in my heart that I had not taken the time to sift through that should not be there. Like a closet full of things that no longer fit my body or my lifestyle, I still wanted to hold on to them. I also knew of those other things, the painful things that were hidden in my heart in places where I purposely put them so others could not see them. But I knew exactly where they were and I knew why I had not bothered to remove them. It was just too painful to deal with. It would take me down those hurtful paths of memory lane that I have clearly marked off with detour signs.
So this invitation to Holy Spirit would give Him permission to dig deeper for the purpose of intentionally looking for EVERYTHING hidden within my heart. OMG!!! Was I ready to be this vulnerable? Was I ready for the test and the sifting through all of my anxious cares? Health? Finances? Family? Ministry? Relationships? COVID?
If I can be transparent, I knew the answer would be yes, though not immediately. I needed to think this through and count up the cost. I did not want to invite Him in and then make Him feel unwelcomed because of my fear of being exposed or even surprised with what He would find. I didn’t want to run the risk of making Him feel unwelcomed because of my pride and my unwillingness to be in agreement with whatever ugliness He uncovered. Then I remembered how gentle He is. I remembered that I am loved by Him and however we have to deal with what He finds, it will be from a place of love. I remembered that I loved Him, too. The mere thought of me wanting to invite Him in came from a place of trust and my desire to fellowship with Him. I needed to know if I was veering off the path of faith because of pain and disappointments. Or was I steady on the right path in spite of life’s burdens. If there had been missteps, I needed Him to lead me back to the glorious path of life and righteousness.
The benefits certainly outweighed the cost. I reread the text with a different perspective. The invitation was to Him but the purpose was for me. Jeremiah 17: 9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things,
And [a]desperately wicked;
Who can know it?”
Who is greater to search a heart that has deceived me more times than I like to remember? Who else has the ability to change, mend, heal, and strengthen a heart that has been broken over and over again? And who knows my heart better than I ever can?
From that perspective, I flung open the doors of my heart and invited Him in. He willingly accepted with no end date. The excavation into my heart has begun. Some days it feels like a scavenger hunt where Holy Spirit knows exactly what He is going after. Other times it feels like a treasure hunt when He unearths something good that I didn’t realize was there. Isaiah 45:3 says it like this, “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.”
Listen, it doesn’t always feel good but I can tell you that it has been so worth it!!!
He’s waiting for an invitation from you too!
Pastor Karen Jethroe