Day 4: An Invitation
“… Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Remember the circumstance I wanted out of? In three weeks we’ll celebrate our twenty-sixth anniversary. I thought my obedience would bring instant change. I thought it would bless me with a fairy tale marriage others would envy. I thought it would change our finances, our home, my man. It didn’t. Obedience didn’t instantly give me the life I wanted. Obedience changed me.
Over time choosing God’s way transformed my heart, and healed my dis-ease. The thing about obedience is it has the ability to grow our faith exponentially. Looking back I realize I’m living in the blessing of that one choice. Not only the blessing of my marriage, but the immeasurable abundance of knowing Christ all the more.
It was the strangest thing. I sat at the stop light asking God what I should take to my mother-in-law who was in the hospital. Should I get them lunch? Maybe some flowers? How about a card?
He responded: Just go.
This is not what I thought best. You don’t show up to visit someone in the hospital empty-handed. Surely God knew this. I argued. Continued to ask what I should take. The only response I got: Just go.
Understand, this argument took place during the time span of a red light at an intersection as I waited for it to change. When it changed to green, I huffed, and prayed, If you say so… and turned toward the hospital. Mumbling all the way about what I didn’t have.
When I arrived, she was in the process of being discharged. The only thing my in-laws needed was a ride home. Guess what I got to do?!
I’ll never forget the joy and conviction I felt in the moment. Humbled before Him for arguing. Elated because He found a use for me. Obedience to His call made me a blessing and also blessed me tremendously.
There’s no greater joy than recognizing when He has invited you into His work. Been part of His plan.
Jesus invites us to come under His yoke, to work alongside Him, do what He does, learn what He knows. The RSVP for the invitation is: obedience.
Come follow me… He said it to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, to James and his brother John. He invited a tax collector named Matthew and then Philip from Bethsaida. All these said Yes and came under His yoke to learn as disciples. To follow and obey their Rabbi.
He called some who refused His invitation. The rich young ruler whom He called to give away his riches to the poor and follow Him. Others wanted to take care of personal business before they followed — they missed their window of opportunity.
The call to follow Him, join Him in His work, is just that. An invitation. As with all invitations we have the choice to accept or reject the invite. Our response to invitations usually comes from desire, whether we want to or not. Does it sound like fun? Or will it be uncomfortable? Sometimes we say Yes out of a sense of obligation. Sometimes we go because we have nothing better to do. Some invitations include requirements for attendance— a certain dress or something to bring. These may affect our answer.
Jesus’s invitation comes with a stipulation. Only one. But it is one we need to consider before saying Yes.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me….”
Matthew 16:24 ESV
Deny yourself. Obey wholeheartedly. And you can follow Him. Work alongside Him.
He longs for us to come under His yoke. He invites us through obedience to enter into the work He’s doing in the world. Healing. Bringing new life. Redeeming. Restoring. Pushing back darkness and bringing in light. Is this something you want to do?
Being under His yoke means there’s not much wiggle room. Two joined together like oxen. You can’t fall too far behind and you can’t go racing ahead. He determines the pace. He sets the course. He’s the Teacher. We’re the followers. Learning to obey, just like Him. Does it make you uncomfortable to let go of control?
Jesus loves His Father and His Father loves Him. During His time on earth, Jesus, being a loving Son, obeyed His Father fully. Never doing things His own way. Only doing, saying, going, as the Father told Him.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. — John 5:19-20 ESV
He obeyed His Father, even to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours, be done.” —Luke 22:42 ESV
The cross was not a means of punishment for Jesus. He never sinned. It was an invitation from the Father to be an indispensable part of His work. Saving the world.
His call to obedience is the same for us. An invitation to be a significant part of His work in restoring the world to all it was intended to be. It’s an invitation to live within the boundaries He set — the place where He knows we’ll find joy, peace, fulfillment. Do you consider His invitation an obligation or a joy?
When we obey, it’s not always easy, but it’s never too much. And if you ever think He’s asking more than you can give, consider Jesus.
Read Hebrews 12:2-3. What did Jesus do? How can this encourage you with a hard step of obedience?
Few invitations come with a guarantee, but His does: His yoke is easy. His burden light. And in it you will find your soul at rest.
Even though obedience leads into great unknowns, opportunities to deny self, and certain death to our way of life in exchange for His, we should view it from a larger perspective. Obedience is an invitation to enter into a great adventure with our Creator to be a part of His grand work of salvation.
Have you had any better offers lately?
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
What do you consider when deciding whether to accept an invitation or not? List your considerations specifically in your journal.
Does your list above apply to how you respond to Jesus’s invitation to obedience? How?
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to give you a grander vision of His invitation to obey.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.
Psalm 119:32 NIV
Exercise Your Faith
Think of a time you were obedient. Consider two blessings that came from choosing God’s way. Give thanks for the blessings.
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