Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Invitation

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Sitting atop a knoll overlooking two parks, a baseball diamond, a soccer field, a playground, and a beautiful little hidden lake with a gushing fountain, someone built an invitation.

Oh, I know it looks like an ordinary wooden bench, but trust me, it's an invitation.

The way up is not far, not treacherous or slippery, just a little steep, just a bit of a test.  It's a spot you wouldn't naturally be drawn to, but the addition of the bench makes it beckon to all who would respond.  I'm ashamed when I think of how long it's been since I've been up there, but with the foot trouble I've been having, and more than that, my current lack of conditioning, I haven't even attempted that hill in a long time.

It's a place to stop and rest, a place to get your bearings, a place to survey the beauty for miles around . . . the invitation should be irresistible, but it's not.  I have proven time and again that I can look longingly up that hill and wish for the reward, but instead, I have stayed down on the flat, avoiding the proof of how out of shape I am, avoiding the heart and lungs and muscles burning with the effort, opting instead for looping a flat, easy track that has no imagination.

There is another invitation that is even more permanent and fixed than the bench on the hill:

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8 NASB

The lonesome, unanswered invitation on the hill makes me wonder if I leave God feeling passed by like the empty bench.  I know well this invitation to draw near to God with it's promise that He will draw near to me. Less familiar, less committed to memory, MUCH less practiced is the hill I'd have to climb to get there--the washing of dirty hands, looking full in the mirror to find a sinner there, the heart burning with the flames that purify, and getting rid of a wavering mind teetering between the flat, easy track and the invitation beckoning from atop the hill.

A standing invitation to spend one on One time with God-Very-God should compel me to run to Him eagerly every single day, training my spiritual muscles to the point that the hill is "NF," a non-factor! Why then is it so frequent that I let little obstacles get in my way. Nothing should be able to keep me from enjoying such a mind-blowing opportunity!! There are human beings I would RUN up that hill to see (and I don't run ANYWHERE), so why do I get sluggish and distracted from climbing it to be with the only One who knows me completely and the One who loves me anyway? If I love Him, even a little, how can I let ANYTHING keep me from Him?

There are so many paths pulling me in many directions each day, good paths, paths I need to walk, like spokes of a wheel that all need my attention for important reasons, but until I have climbed that one steep little hill to draw near to the God who loves me and desires to spend time with me, all those other paths will just run me around and leave me breathless and spent, drained and operating out of the deficit of relying on myself.

I think it's high time I stop being afraid of how that hill will reveal my weakness, and climb it anyway, even if I have to limp all the way to the top! He is more than worth whatever it takes to respond to His loving invitation with an echoing love of my own!

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.


Have you heard His invitation?
Have you climbed the humbling hill to respond to His loving call?
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