INVITATIONS ARE POWERFUL. Like tides, they ebb and flow, shaping the contours of our existence. Some invitations we desperately want but never get—”Will you marry me?” or “Would you consider a promotion?” Other invitations we never want to receive but must honor all the same—”We are letting you go,” “The text came back positive,” or “Your baby has Down syndrome.” Invitations pound away at the coastlines of the soul. They contain a transforming force that can carve our possible and impossible futures.
In order to recognize and say Yes to an invitation from God, one needs to say No to a collection of other invitations from friends, family, school, work, boredom, “the culture,” the (gulp) church, and our own compulsions. The key question, writes Adele, is, “Do the invitations we accept make us more free or less?…Learning to listen and respond to God’s invitations is the path to real freedom. Invitations from God bring healing and liberation from the gnawing lies of the enemy…Only free people know how to say yes and no.”
God’s invitations are formative and shape our character. She writes that, “God’s invitations are meant to mend, shape, anchor and grow us into the character of Jesus. They call us into our true selves in Christ… Invitations from the Holy One serve God’s dream for the world. They don’t call me to become what I produce, what others think of me or what I know. They invite me to be free.”
THINGS I LIKED
1. GOD KEEPS ON INVITING “It doesn’t matter,” Adele says, “if you were on the paid staff of hell: God’s invitation goes out to you again and again. No matter how God’s invitations get delivered, they let us know that we are wanted, loved, named and known.”
2. GOD INVITES US TO FOLLOW Adele observes, “Jesus doesn’t use the word leader at all, as far as I can tell.” But the language of leadership is so common in the water in which we swim in places like Cambridge that it’s difficult to consider Jesus’ alternative – servanthood. She also doesn’t have much patience with the superficial spin that is popular today – calling “servant leadership” a rationalization for preserving a “superior heart—a heart that does not identify with the descending way of Jesus” Rather than a strategy for acquiring and wielding power, accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow him means we “risk his journey of descent—the journey that will be the making of us. Maturity, humility, patience, godliness—these are all fruit of following Jesus. These are the fruit of following Jesus down.” Consider the practices she suggests:
- Put myself in a position to take direction, instruction or guidance from someone else.
- Practice secrecy by keeping my accomplishments to myself.
- practice being lead servant. Share my perks or give them away. Don’t expect special treatment.
3. GOD INVITES US TO ADMIT WE MIGHT BE WRONG One of my dear friends, Bill Stuntz accepted this invitation frequently. Even though he finished his brilliant academic career as renowned scholar of criminal justice at Harvard Law School, I frequently heard him preface a comment to students with, “I could be wrong about this…” It always opened up the conversation. This invitation is like a 2 x 4 across the forehead for those of us who wanto be, not just right – but good. “The good news,” Adele reminds us, “is that I don’t need to be afraid of being wrong. Jesus’ death on the cross undoes the lies that tell me I am loveable only when I am right.” As a start, Adele suggests that we practice awareness:
- Notice where I am unable to let something go uncorrected.
- Notice when I get into argument over details that may or may not be important.
- Notice how I listen to and treat those I think are wrong.
- Notice why it matters to me to be right.
- Notice what heppens when I don’t defend myself and my opinions.
- Notice how many (or I add, few) friendships I have with folks I don’t agree with.
4. GOD INVITES US TO WAIT “To wait expectantly and with open hands requires a relinquishment of control that gets at the roots of our motivations, fears and idilatries. It is where we learn that God isn’t a genie and that happiness is not a matter of God meeting our expectations. The truth is that God doesn’t come to us in our future. God comes now—while we wait. It’s not up to you to make things happen or to make God show up. What you can do is say yes to God’s invitation to stay alert while you wait… it is in the waiting that things happen in our soulds. In the waiting our character is formed.” To help myself learn how to wait, I can:
- Notice when I get impatient and stay in the moment wiht God.
- Become aware of expectations for the day. What happens when my expectations are not met?
- Notice what I do when I am not in control.
THINGS I STILL NEED TO THINK ABOUT
Honestly, this book is so beautiful and each chapter such a clear invitation of its own, I was left with few questions. Instead, I’m working through which invitations are most important for my own walk with Jesus and how these invitations will shape our Rule of Life. Stay tuned as we figure it out…