The Invitation

There are advantages to being small.  When I was a kid, I was really little.  This didn’t pay off in sports, of course.  It didn’t really helped me attract the ladies.  It didn’t make me all that noticeable.  But it did make me really great at hide and go seek.  I guess you have to excel at whatever you can.  I could fit in the most unbelievable places because I was so short and thin.  It wasn’t really a big deal for me to wedge myself into a tight space and win the game.  So as long as I could hide, I was good.  I could stay there for a long time.

Hide and seek is an interesting game, if we really think about it.  Someone tries to find another person or person(s) that is right in front of them.  Short of giggles or coughs, sneezes or other noises, a person could be right around the corner and no one know.  They are hidden in plain sight sometimes.  Eventually they are found or they stop hiding and just come out.  It gets boring when you hide and no one can find you after quite a while.  I think this childhood game can teach us something from the scripture today.  It is about seeking and finding…the invitation and answering the invitation.

Isaiah 55:1-9

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In this reading, Isaiah is talking to the remnant of Israel – those who are left after exile and all that has happened.  They are hungry for something…they are likely discouraged and distraught.  They need encouragement. They need a word from God that reminds them they are not forsaken, not forgotten.  They are not alone.  God speaks life to them with these words.

Isaiah tells them to seek the Lord.  This is a command we hear more than once in the scriptures.  We are told…seek and you shall find…knock and it shall be opened…ask and you shall receive.  This idea of seeking is not new.  It is familiar.  To seek is active.  It is something we do.  I think the most interesting concept of seeking is that God is not hidden.  He is in plain sight.  Yet, we miss him all the time.  He is not playing hide and seek with us.  He is not hiding, waiting for us to come around the corner.  He is not crouched behind something waiting to come out and shout boo.  God is here.  God is with us.  God is in us and around us.  God is working through us.  God is here.  Yet, we miss him all the time.  I believe we miss him because we are not looking for him.  We miss what he is doing because we are not seeking him.  We may be busy with our own agendas.  We are living our lives so we do not see what he is up to.  We have our own plans and our own goals, so we miss that God is here.  We get in the way of seeing God.  He is not hidden, we just choose not to see.  We make the decision not to acknowledge his presence all around us.

But the invitation is there.  The invitation to come and see is there.  We are not excluded.  Our sins, our shortcomings, our problems, our greed, our selfishness, our stubbornness may all be a hinderance – but God still offers the invitation.  An invitation means something.  An invitation means that someone wants us there.  They have thought of us for their event.  Our presence is being requested for something important, often quite significant.  There is something going on that someone thought we should be a part.  We are invited.  And over and over again, Isaiah repeats the invitation.  Come and see.  Come and experience.  Come and dine.  Come and be loved.  Come and find out all the God has for you.  Come and take your place at the table.  Come and listen to the goodness of God.

This is a powerful invitation from the Creator.  It is an invitation to experience God.  We are not excluded.  When we accept the invitation, he cleans us up and gives us all we need to truly live an abundant life.  When we walk through the open door, he has a feast of joy waiting for us.  It is all right before us.

Don’t misunderstand me, though.  This invitation is not about money or power or earthly gain.  This is an invitation from God.  He has plans that are good and abundant and filled with life.  But earthly treasures don’t mean anything to God.  He has much more important things awaiting.  So the invitation…the seeking…does not result in a bigger house or more money or monetary gain.  The invitation is to something so much more important.  The invitation is to a life of fulfillment by following God.  We are taken care of because we are seeking God.  We experience life in a whole new way because we are seeking and following him.

The invitation has been issued.  God is right before us waiting for us.  Will you seek and will you follow?  The next move is up to you.  Choose wisely.

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