In Christ; abundant life! John 10:10b

An Invitation Is Required

By Marilyn Roberts

Have you ever done something foolish when you knew better? You either said something or did something or didn’t say or do something so you wind up saying to yourself, “Why did I….?”

In my case it involved a problem with my toe. Over the years I developed a corn that sometimes bothered me but it was of no consequence. I just adapted; until one day I found myself in a podiatrist’s office. His skill remedied the problem for a while but it didn’t last very long. He finally told me that the bone in that toe had curved upward and it was why the wearing of enclosed shoes had become extremely uncomfortable. He went on to say eventually the only cure would be surgery. Well, when the problem started this last time, it was summer and so I simply wore sandals or open-toed shoes that didn’t rub up against that toe. But as time progressed and winter drew near I knew I would soon have to make a decision.

During this time of going back and forth to the doctor about my toe, this woman of faith never brought this problem to God. At that time, I was dealing with people in my family and others who had major illnesses. I was busy praying for them and thought my toe was not even in that league. After all, they were dealing with life and death issues and I was just trying to wear enclosed shoes!

But one day my discomfort escalated into extreme pain. Every time I put on enclosed shoes I was having trouble walking. The next time I saw the doctor we were discussing scheduling the surgery he had predicted would happen.

I sheepishly went to the Lord. I was ashamed I hadn’t spoken to Him about it earlier. In my imagination I saw my Lord with a raised eyebrow, as if He was saying. “Well, it’s about time! I’ve been waiting on you.” I repented. I didn’t want to have surgery on my toe. I asked Him to heal me.

I have sat under a lot of teachings concerning healing. I own books and recordings on the subject and I knew that according to the Scriptures, Jesus is my healer. So according to Mark 11:23 that says I can have what I say; I began to speak to my toe.

I literally spoke out loud to it every time I put on enclosed shoes. I would point to it and say something to this effect. “No, you’re not going to hurt! You are healed in Jesus’ name. Bone, you will straighten and function properly and cause me no more pain.” I said this with authority like a parent correcting a child. I spoke firmly to my toe and refused to accept the pain it tried to cause me.

Did the pain go away immediately? No, it did not! But I noticed that each time I spoke to it in Jesus’ name, it would hurt less and I could wear shoes for a longer period of time. Before I knew it, I was wearing enclosed shoes without any pain! At this writing, it has been almost a year since I’ve had any trouble at all.

I wanted to share this testimony with you because it reinforces the goodness and the kindness of our God. God remains faithful to us and His Word, even when we are not. (2 Timothy 2:13) I find that so kind of Him. God didn’t fuss at me. He didn’t say, “Oh, so now you want my help!” He didn’t chastise me or make me think that He didn’t want to help me. My foolish decision to wait until I could no longer handle the problem by myself didn’t cut me off from His faithfulness. He remained faithful because He can’t deny Himself. He is a Good Father who loves me and helped me in my hour of need. He simply waited to be invited into this area of my life.

In the book of John the 2nd chapter, Mary the mother of Jesus, was invited to a wedding.  Jesus and His disciples were invited also. You know the story. The wine ran out before the festivities were over. This was really bad news and potentially could cause great embarrassment for the newlyweds. Mary, an invited guest, gets involved.

“They have no more wine” she tells Jesus. Please forgive me, but I laugh every time I read Jesus’ response. Let me paraphrase, “What does that have to do with me?” Jesus tells her that it’s not time for Him to step into His ministry. As a mother, her response causes me to smile. She’s a typical mother who knows what her son should do. “She doesn’t respond to Him but rather turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever He tells you to do.” Now excuse my liberty here, but I can just see Jesus pursing His lips at her as if he said, “Didn’t she hear what I just said!” But He’s an invited guest and there is an issue that is within His power to solve. So He does His first miracle of His 3-year earthly ministry; He turns some water into wine.

It’s easy to rationalize that a problem is too small to worry God about. When I first had the problem with my toe, I should have brought the matter to Him. Why? Not only would He have helped prevent the future trauma but because He cares for me.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). Did you notice that this verse doesn’t have qualifiers? It doesn’t say, cast if the problem is overwhelming, cast if it’s too big to handle, or cast only if it’s a matter of life and death. It doesn’t say that we can only cast the cares or anxieties that matter to everyone. No, instead it uses the word “ALL”. “Cast all your anxiety on Him…”

This word “all” also shows up in another verse, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6, NIV). When we acknowledge Him, we invite Him into the circumstances of our lives.

Remember this verse? Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you…” When you call someone, you are inviting them to speak to you. When you call on the Lord, you are inviting Him to get involved with your concerns.

“We do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15a, NIV). Jesus came down from heaven and lived in a flesh and blood body with all its limitations and flaws. The Father’s plan for Him to fulfill His purposes as a human being enabled Him to know firsthand about our cares and anxieties!

But all Jesus’ actions show Him to be a gentleman who won’t encroach upon our freewill to invite Him into every area of our lives. The scriptures I quoted above involve an invitation. We must cast on Him, we must acknowledge Him, and we must call to Him.

God wants to be invited into every facet of our lives. He’s eager to fellowship around our everyday, ordinary lives. He confirms it in Revelation 3:20, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (NLT).

The “…Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 4:24b, NLT) waits for an invitation from us! He’s waiting for us to open the door of our lives and invite Him to enter. How mind-boggling is that! And yet, it’s true… an invitation is required!

Two scriptures came to mind when I was pondering how to answer God’s question. The Message Translation of a familiar verse in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” and The New Living Translation of Romans 8:26, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

I found comfort in the New Living Translation of Isaiah 45:18-19, “For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.”

One definition of obscurity is uncertainty of meaning or expression; ambiguity. God doesn’t talk to us that way. God wants to help us, He wants us to have the right answer at the right time for our situations and He wants to provide that answer. These words are recorded in Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand, or whenever you turn to the left.”