The Great Invitation
It’s graduation season! Over the next few weeks, as we move into the month of June, hundreds of thousands of students across the globe will either graduate from high school or university. Courses of study will be complete, and a new season of life will begin. It will be a time of great celebration for families as they share in the joy of this accomplishment. My wife and I have received several invitations, inviting us to attend either the graduation ceremony or the open house celebration to honor the graduate. I can remember back when our own kids graduated from high school, and we sent out invitations to friends and family members. It was such a memorable time in our lives.
The word “invitation” is described as being “a written or verbal request inviting someone to go somewhere or to do something.” In our global ministry of pastoral care, we often receive ministry opportunities or “invitations” to travel to an overseas location to provide a ministry of encouragement. Often there is a significant spiritual or emotional need that drives the “invite”.
Since the start of 2021, Barnabas International has received an average of 12 “invites” per month from people and/or organizations who are seeking some form of pastoral care or help. This is on top of the individual invitations that are received by each of our staff members around the world. The current need for pastoral care among global workers is great!
The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55 also extends a “Great Invitation” to receive a special blessing. Take a moment to read this powerful chapter:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live, I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” 6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown for an everlasting sign that will endure forever.”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the details of the above verses:
- Isaiah 55:1-2 – An Invitation to be fed
Isaiah calls out, loud and clear, to all that can hear. Isaiah’s invitation is to everyone, but more specifically, to anyone who thirsts.
- Isaiah 55:3-5 – An invitation to be led
The benefit from inclining your ear to God is impressive. When we do it, we have life for our soul.
- Isaiah 55:6-7 – An invitation to be forgiven
Isaiah seems to be impressing onto us a sense of urgency to “seek” the Lord now. He is also reminding us of the need for repentance. The blessings are sure and clear – God’s mercy and love will be poured out through His abundant pardon on our lives.
When we receive an invitation of this magnitude, it seems almost ridiculous to turn it down, or simply, to not respond. As customary, most invitations received today come with an “RSVP” request. As an abbreviation for the French phrase “Repondez, s'il vous plait”, this translates to “Respond, if you please” or, better still, “Respond please”.
Isaiah ends this chapter with the realization that “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts” nor are “our ways His ways.” The glorious promise that His Word will not return void, calls us to be “Word-saturated”. This speaks to one of the core values of Barnabas International.
David Guzik’s commentary says this (which I personally love) –
“When God’s people turn to Him, listen to Him, and His Word does His work in them, joy and peace are always the result. The joy is so great, that even the mountains and the hills, and the trees of the field join in.”
The big question for each of us today is this – Will you accept the Lord’s “Great Invitation” that He freely offers? If I were you, I’d “RSVP”!