Accept God’s Invitations
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 10 Dec
The fallen world we live in constantly issues us invitations to engage in activities that seem like they could make us feel valuable and wanted. But if we put pressure on ourselves to accept invitations that aren’t actually healthy for us, we become enslaved by other people’s ideas of what we should do and drift away from the lives God wants us to live.
There’s a much better way to deal with invitations. You can find that way – which leads to freedom from the world’s pressures– if you accept the invitations you receive from the best source: God. Saying “yes” when you sense that God is the one asking you to RSVP will give you the best life you could ever choose.
Here’s how you can accept God’s invitations:
Accept the invitation to participate in your own healing. The process by which God heals you and makes you whole doesn’t occur by magic, with God simply zapping you with healing while you passively receive it. Instead, you must actively pursue and cooperate with God’s work in your life in order to heal and grow spiritually. Ask some people you trust what needs to change in you, pray about what they say, and follow God’s guidance each day as empowers you to heal from the inside out.
Accept the invitation to follow.Decide to follow Jesus’ path of sacrifice and service to others. In a world where many people want to choose their own way, choose instead to follow Jesus’ way in every situation you encounter. Pay attention to how you deal with money, sex, and power – the way you approach each of those issues reveals your values. Rather than trying to summon enough willpower to follow where Jesus leads you (which won’t give you enough help on its own), fall in love with Jesus in fresh ways, and let your love for Him motivate you to follow Him.
Accept the invitation to practice the presence of people. Ask God to help you view people from His perspective, so you can see how important they are. Pray for the ability to recognize God’s image reflected in everyone you meet (despite their brokenness), and for the strength to give them undivided attention and let them know that they matter. Learn how to make time for people, even when they interrupt your agendas, to listen carefully to them, and to help meet their needs when God calls you to do so.
Accept the invitation to rest. Align your life with the rhythms that God has embedded into creation, taking time to rest regularly so you can renew your body, mind, and relationships with God and other people. Celebrate a Sabbath day once a week (if you have to work on Sunday, you can observe the Sabbath on another day) to enjoy the gifts that you’re free to enjoy when you’re not concerned about being productive. Take brief breaks from work throughout your workdays to recharge.
Accept the invitation to weep. Open yourself up to noticing and feeling the pain in this fallen world that causes God to weep; doing so will enlarge your soul. Offer your own pain to Jesus by imagining Him on the Cross and leaving your pain there for Him to transform into something that accomplishes good purposes in your life. Talk honestly about your pain with other people who care about you and will support your healing by praying for you. Reach out to other people who are struggling with pain, and help them in whatever ways God calls you to help them.
Accept the invitation to admit that you might be wrong. Accept the fact that you don’t know all there is to know and that you sometimes make mistakes. Letting go of your urge to be right will open your soul up to hearing more from God and learning from Him every day. Pray for a humble and teachable spirit. Ask God to help you treat all people with dignity and respect even when you disagree with them. Confess and repent of your sins regularly. Always seek God’s will for situations rather than just your own agenda.
Accept the invitation to forgive. Let your gratitude for how God has forgiven your sins through your relationship with Jesus motivate you to obey God’s command to forgive the people who hurt you. Rely on God’s help to go through the forgiveness process, which includes: naming the ways people have wronged you; letting go of grudges, blame, pain, and plans for revenge; separating the people themselves from their wrong actions; forgiving people even when they don’t admit wrongdoing or ask for forgiveness; and setting healthy boundaries with people who have hurt you to protect yourself from abuse.
Accept the invitation to wait. Choose to trust that God will do what’s best for you, at the best time, if you commit your concerns to Him in prayer. When you catch yourself getting impatient about the future, remind yourself to live fully in the present moment, since God is with you there. The time you spend waiting for something you want to happen is valuable because God transforms your character while you wait.
Accept the invitation to pray. Pray often, since prayer connects you with God and empowers you to respond faithfully to all situations you experience. Be creative about praying in a variety of different ways (silently, out loud, alone, with others, using Bible verses, spontaneously, while sitting still and breathing quietly, while walking or singing, etc.) so you can open yourself up to hearing from God in fresh ways. Look to the Lord’s Prayer as your model for how to use your prayers to align yourself with God’s will.
Accept the invitation to remember. Reflect on the many different ways that God has worked in your life, helping you move: from bondage to freedom, from anger or anxiety to trust and peace, from pain to health, from sorrow to joy, and from hatred to love. Thank God for the ways in which His goodness has changed your life for the better. Ask God to show you how your life’s story fits into the great story of how He is at work redeeming the world, and seek God’s guidance on how you can tell your story to inspire others to grow closer to God in their own lives.
Accept the invitation to the most excellent way: love. Study Jesus’ earthly life and learn from it how you can put others first as He did. Pray every day for more power to live in the most excellent way: loving God and other people well.
Adapted from Invitations from God: Accepting God's Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember and More,copyright 2011 by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Published by IVP Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downer’s Grove, Ill., http://www.ivpress.com/books/.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (M.A., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) has worked in Christian ministry for more than 30 years and currently co-pastors Redeemer Community in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her husband, Doug. A trained spiritual director, she is the author of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. Adele is a founding member of the Transforming Center and continues to enjoy her involvement with this community.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: [email protected]to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.