An Invitation to Dinner
A Journal Entry by Krista
I sat in my weekly Bible study, taking notes on the historical points of interest, yet feeling I was desperately missing any connection with my soul that would warrant such a change of heart that so many seemed to be feeling. My lack of spiritual interest didn’t come as much of a shock, though, because I’d been feeling a cloud of gray fog over my heart for awhile.
It wasn’t that I wanted to be indifferent to the things of the Lord, it’s just that there were so many other things pressing on me. Besides, I was putting in a commendable amount of time on studying His Word and it just didn’t seem like anything was really getting to me. In the mornings, I would watch Joel pour over His Bible for hours, engrossed in study, taking notes in his journal, silently praying with tears running down his cheeks as he (I’m guessing) confessed his lack of devotion to Jesus.
Meanwhile, I sat on the other side of the room, doing my own study, yet without an ounce of the same conviction in my soul.
I knew Joel had (what I considered to be) gross sin in his life, and yet he experienced a deep (and enviable) relationship with Jesus. I, on the other hand, had no great sin in my life, or so I thought. Why wasn’t I allowed such sweet communion? Why had He allowed me to get to such a place that, honestly, I didn’t even really miss it anymore? I could see why I need Jesus (providing a way to the Father for eternity and rescuing me from a host of sin), but I couldn’t really see why I wanted Jesus.
Finally, I could stand it no longer. I had to figure out what I was lacking. It was gradually eating the joy out of my life. I asked Joel to help me sort through it and after talking about it for several hours, we came to the story of the Prodigal Son.
It’s a familiar story to most of us, but I had never seen my role in the parable…the older brother. He’s been working hard in the field all day and as he returns home, he hears music and laughing coming from his father’s house. And he can smell the fatted calf roasting on the fire. A huge celebration is going on, and apparently no one had the time to come to invite the first-born son?! Who could be so important that would warrant his father throwing a celebration so large that he would be overlooked?
And then his father comes to tell him—it’s his younger brother, returned home from gambling his inheritance, sleeping with prostitutes and dishonoring the family name. Oh joy!
“A party?? Why wasn’t he taken out back and flogged?!? Why is he even allowed to walk on our land? And what about me?! Haven’t I stayed by your side for years, faithfully obeying your orders and working for you? And yet, I haven’t even been given the chance to have a small party with my friends!”
Personally, I have been a Christian for 25 years, and my testimony lacks anything that would cause anyone to gasp at my waywardness or swallow hard at my wanderings. Yet, I was missing that sweet reunion with my Father that so many of the “Prodigals” I know enjoy on an almost daily basis.
I felt like the same little girl from Sunday School who accepted the invitation from Jesus to dine with Him years ago. I had entered His house, and I stood quietly in the entryway, obediently waiting to come to the table. Vagabonds in smelly clothes brushed past me to be seated in the dining room. It was obvious they hadn’t spent a lifetime of obedience waiting cleanly in the hallway of the Father’s house, but they walked boldly (albeit humbly) into the dining room.
I could hear the clanking of dishes, people laughing, and the Father welcoming more wayward sons and daughters to the table. I could smell the food from my place in the hallway. I even saw the Father put on His coat and walk past me to bring those inside who were too weak to make it to the table on their own.
Yet there I stood.
Overlooked, passed by, forgotten.
And then, it hit me. I realized that I had not accepted all of my Father’s invitation. A quarter of a century ago, He did not ask me merely to come into His house, but to dine with Him. I was already invited!!
My problem was that I didn’t see my place among the other vagabonds at the table. I didn’t recognize the magnitude of sin that, even as a child, God was erasing to bring me to His house. Thinking my need for Him was less than others’, I was waiting for the Father to push them aside and put me in a seat of honor, a kind of “Honorary Mention” for someone who recognized Him so early in life. Yet, it was He who chose me, not I Him. My arrogance proved I had missed that understanding.
And so, today, I humble myself again, in the sight of the Lord, trusting the He will lift me up. I seat myself at the low place at the table, recognizing the great inheritance that is mine as His child, yet acknowledging that nothing I’m given, not even breath of life, is deserved. I seat myself beside my vagabond husband, recognizing my own vagrant beggar status, and await expectantly to share in his communion with the Father together.