Our garage had become the storage space for all of the family stuff. We were the ones who lived in the same house for more than 25 years so naturally all family treasures were deposited in our garage.
That was until we decided to go back overseas.
We started sorting through all of the treasures: the old trunk from my grandparents who worked in Ethiopia early in the 20th century, the scrolls and carvings belonging to my parents who worked in Asia, an old box of my great-uncle’s accounting records including an apron and a yardstick from the family’s flourishing lumber business which was a San Diego icon. So many family treasures.
In the trunk from Ethiopia we found old black and white photos, some Ethiopian artifacts from times gone by and a very official looking invitation. The card had been sent to my grandparents, longtime cross-cultural workers in Ethiopia by King Haile Sellassie inviting them to the celebration of the 9th anniversary of his return to his capitol after invading forces had left.
What was most intriguing about the invitation was the wording on the card. It read,
“By command of his Imperial Majesty
Halie Sellassie I,
Emperor of Ethiopia,
the A.D.C. to His Imperial Majesty
has the honour to request the attendance of……..”
The invitation was by command of His Imperial Majesty.
Interesting to have a command and a request in the same sentence. A command invitation. It seems to be a contradiction in terms.
A command focuses the attention on the giver of the order while an invitation shifts the focus to the recipient.
In Mark’s gospel we find Jesus being asked which commandment was the most important of all the commandments. Jesus answered, quoting from the Old Testament,
“The most important is, Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
This command touches us in so many ways. If we are honest with ourselves, we say, “Yeah, I know I should do that” and we strive to obey the command.
However, in the depths of our hearts we often feel it as an oppressive burden, as we know that this is an impossible command to fulfill. In the evening, as we lay in bed reflecting on the events of the day, we know in our heart of hearts that we did not meet the standard.
Take another look at the greatest commandment and you will find that it includes a powerful truth that is easily overlooked. This command is also a call or an invitation to pursue God.
A command invitation.
This command focuses me back on the heart of the Giver of the command. It is because of his great love for us that he invites me to love and pursue him. It is not based on my performance.
Even when I don’t measure up, he still enthusiastically and whole-heartedly extends his passionate invitation to me to enjoy an intimate relationship with him.
I fail so frequently and don’t deserve it.
He still loves me.
He still wants me.
Can I believe this? Do I believe this?
God gives me an invitation each day to pursue Him. He enables me to do this through the power of the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in our hearts when we say, “Yes” to the Gospel.
The promise is that his love is steadfast; it never changes. He is faithful to keep all of his promises. In my failure to pursue him, he is always there… inviting me to crawl back into his lap and pursue him again for one more day.
He wants to be with me.
As we were in the final exhausting days of sorting through all of the accumulation of our years in our house, my husband and I would declare each morning and evening:
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, (Psalm 92:1-2).
Did we love God and those around us perfectly during those stressful days? No.
Some days we could barely keep it together! So we intentionally established the habit each night to thank God and declare his faithfulness. And each morning was a new opportunity to thank him, and believe and receive his steadfast love to us.
Because of God’s love for us, each day we have a new opportunity to RSVP his command invitation to love him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength.
How do you respond to God’s invitation to pursue him?