“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3: 16-17
Painting by Salvador Dali.
Lately, I have been thinking about how it feels to be invited or not invited to a specific function. We all know the feeling of wanting to go to some event but because we were not members of a particular corporation or private club we were not invited.
Of course, on the other side of the coin are all the events we are invited to that we choose not to go to. This used to happen to us around graduation time. We would get several invitations to different ceremonies and their accompanying parties. We would then have to decide which to attend and which to decline.
Uninvited, Invited, Invited and Declined. That’s how it is in society.
It’s different with God, though. There is no one who is not invited to come into his house. Jesus said: “Come to me, ALL you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. The invitation is for all, no one is excluded, period. This invitation can also be declined. It’s your choice.
Invited, Invited and Declined. That’s how it is with God.
Several years ago, I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for my son’s prescription. For two years, he had been suffering from a migraine pain syndrome set off by a fall on a gym floor. We had been to doctors, neurologists, and a vascular specialist who told us our son had the worst kind of migraines. Nothing we tried seemed to give him relief for any period of time. So there I was, buying yet another prescription that may or may not help. I was feeling sorry for myself because I was putting out more money that was probably being spent in vain that could have been used for something else. As I was spiraling down in the quietness of my own thoughts, I just happened to look out the window.
There in front of me was a middle-aged man walking by. He was obviously going to the railroad tracks behind the pharmacy hoping to catch a train. He was carrying a backpack as he moved along. Then…he looked up and I saw him…really saw him. He had the saddest eyes I had ever seen. They were filled with pain and suffering and bore deep into my soul. At that moment, I knew I was looking into the eyes of Christ. There, in that man was true suffering. I was immediately taken aback and felt ashamed. I, who had so much, was feeling sorry for myself and just outside the window was a man who had nothing but the clothes on his back. I will never forget his face or those eyes that bored into my soul. To this day, I will never know if that was an actual man or a manifestation of the Lord on earth.
I do know that in his eyes, I had seen the Lord. He was not walking the hallowed halls of government power or sitting in a plush corporate boardroom. He was there with the lowly, the suffering, and the homeless. I know now that if I want to be where the heart of God is, that I must go where the broken-hearted are. That’s where He will be, ministering his love and grace to those who have no hope and need His help.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18