Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shut Out

As I was driving home from a recent "Mom's night out" at the church, I had a vision of trying to get comfortable while sleeping in the front seat of Ryan's car.

"I forgot to ask for his house keys," I thought to myself as I kept driving.

It was late and I knew he would be asleep because he'd just started chemo again and it usually made him sleepy.

When I got home, sure enough the doors were all closed tightly and locked. Inwardly, I was excited that he kept everything so safe. But then I struggled with how I would get into the house.

First, I tried the back exit through the garage door, to no avail. Then, the front door. No such luck.

After that I went around back and found that the dog was in the same predicament as me!

So, I sat there, scratching his head (and mine!), thinking about how to get Ryan's attention. Yes, I could have used my cell phone, but my battery was dead and I assumed he was sleeping and wouldn't hear his phone anyway.

That's when I thought about all those cute 1950's movies where the guys tried to get a girl's attention by throwing pebbles at her bedroom window.

I turned on the hose.

I sprayed the window down because the only rocks we had in the backyard would break the window and rather than getting his attention, I realized that the hose probably sounded a bit like rain to Ryan if he was awake. Then I saw that the pool brush was laying on our loungers, so I pulled out the extension and started hitting it against the window.

Apparently, Ryan was watching all this from our room, amused that I was "washing the windows." (Yeah, but it was close to midnight at this point.)

I was not amused and didn't like the feeling of being shut out.

I had instant relief when I saw the hall light turn on as Ryan walked down the stairs to come rescue me, laughing that I was "washing the windows."

He has an amazing sense of humor, which is one of the things I love about him. But he should know I'm too lazy to do house chores at midnight.

Still, there was no better feeling than when he opened the door and put his arms around me, to welcome me home.

                                                      ________________

I think about the places in the Bible that invite us in, to draw us to the place where we are closer to God and His people. It's true that we have the choice to come to Him or not - a choice that ends the day we die.

That amazing feeling of coming home to the man of my dreams each day (or vice versa) is truly a gift. But it's only a glimpse of what it will be like to be in Heaven with Jesus someday. And as a bonus, I get to be with Ryan too!

The Bible talks about getting ready for that day -- putting on our "garments of righteousness." I want to be clothed with the right attire within my character, so that when my life ends and I stand before God, I will not be thrown out. I think about this parable, when I think about how miserable it will be for those who reject God in this lifetime and all they will miss by their own choosing:

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good,and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
                                                ____________


In light of everyone's future meeting with the Creator of the universe, I will often ask people if they go to church. It surprises me what people say when asked this question and how quickly the conversation turns one extreme direction or the other.


I love to talk as much as the next extrovert, but I am learning to listen, as well. It's a work in progress, but I have come a long way from where I used to be, let me tell you!


One thing I've rarely heard when I listen to people talk about church is being "shut out" from it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime conversation to hear of someone who wasn't welcomed at church - big sins or small ones. It just doesn't happen.


But when we read Paul's epistle to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians - it sounds like Paul is endorsing just that, for people caught in sin. I'm not a Bible scholar, but one thing my pastor has taught me is that as you keep reading the rest of the book, and on into 2 Corinthians, you realize that there's a way out of it so that we CAN be with God, no matter what we've done.


The man caught in sin, sleeping with his Dad's wife (yes, that's in the Bible), is given a path to choose. He can either continue doing what he's doing and walk away from God OR he can give up what he desired and walk away from it, to walk with the God of the universe.


Um, Bob, I'll pick what's behind Door Number 2!


In light of all that, I think about the parable that Jesus taught which seems a bit harsh toward the man who didn't have the right garments on.


However, when you were last told you were going to a wedding, did you or did you not think about what you would wear when you attended it? It's one of the main requirements of attending a formal event.


And whose responsibility is it to dress ourselves?


Do you see where I am going with all this?


I don't want to come to the end of my life and be shut out from God's kingdom.


Do you?
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