Invited

For a week, I had been cleaning out a messy room in our house filled with old toys. I wanted my daughters’ friends to have a tidy place to gather when they came over for a Friday Night Fun Night at our house. We had invited them and they had responded with a Yes, but then both girls had an unexpected family event occur which prevented them from coming. I had worked hard to clean but the fact was, the visitors couldn’t make it.

I’m glad that when I invite the Holy Spirit of God to move in my life, He shows up. He doesn’t have other plans and desires to be invited into our hearts to help, strengthen and create new things.

I love how the prophet Ezekiel called on the wind to come and blow life into an army that had just been raised up. The wind of God represents His Holy Spirit. In the valley of dry bones, no life existed until Ezekiel spoke to them after God told him to speak and the bones came alive. In order for the army to have breath in their bones, God told Ezekiel to call on the winds to blow into them.

Ezekiel invited the wind and it came. It accomplished the purpose which was to awaken and allow the army of people to breathe again.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary faith. Ezekiel had the faith needed for God’s work to be done. He invited God to move and expected an answer from God.

Ezekiel knew that the situation looked hopeless with bones scattered throughout the valley, but he believed in the possibility that God could do something on a grand scale. He believed God and spoke. I believe that we too must look at our situations and speak life to them. The circumstances must not cause us to forget all of what God has done in the past and all that He is able to do in the future.

In my church’s Monday night prayer meetings, we have been inviting God to be with us as we praise and worship him through songs. He is pleased with our worship then we pray and ask him to heal bodies, broken hearts and bound lives. I know that as we invite Him to move and work in the lives of our family and friends, we will see great things. We will experience what previously had seemed impossible.

On the night of October 21, 2019, our pastor told us to mark this date down as the night that we prayed fervently for all of the men in our church to be spiritual leaders in their homes. This is part of the prayer that the pastor prayed over the men:

“On this day we are asking God to help you and deliver you so that you will not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Be done with whatever it is. You may need to start something new. In the name of Jesus, I renounce this thorn, this snare and this trap. I want Jesus and to be filled with the Holy Spirit and used by the Lord. Help the men to be leaders of spiritual things in our homes and to pray with their wives. Help the men to be a peacemaker in their homes and spread the love of Jesus. Jesus will applaud you and devils will run. In the name of Jesus!”

We have invited the Holy Spirit to move mightily on all the men in our church and specifically on our husbands. I sent my husband this prayer because he was driving to the prayer meeting from work. Once he arrived, the pastor prayed more over the men and we sang praises to God. It was so sweet to worship alongside my precious husband and to lift up Jesus.

As I stood next to my husband with our arms embracing each other from the side, we sang the “Shout to the Lord” song. One of my favorite parts of the chorus is when we sing, “I sing for joy at the work of your hands.” I remember singing this song while being pregnant with my second child and praising God for how He was forming her in my body. Now, I am praising Him for how he is placing a hedge of protection around my children and my husband to protect their minds and hearts. Another song was a short chorus which had these words repeated: “To Him Who Sits on the Throne and unto the Lamb. Be Blessing and glory and honor and power forever!”

I have invited the Holy Spirit to be welcomed in my home and heart. I ask that you consider how you are inviting God into your life. He is waiting for us to open our hearts and minds to the possibility that there is a new thing, a new hope just around the corner. Invite the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and watch as He answers your prayer.

Where Are You?

Genesis 3: 8-11, 21 (New Living Translation)

8When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

11“Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

 21And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

One of our cats, Bruce, shot out of the piano room like a lightning bolt once the door opened. We had placed the cats in that room to avoid having them escape out of the front and back doors as the WiFi installer guy would be in and out of our house for a few hours. Once the piano room door opened for the WiFi to be checked by the installer, both of our nine month old cats quickly escaped.

These cats love to run, jump and scratch items in our house and rarely have they been outside. We quickly located the other cat but unfortunately, after 30 minutes, we could not locate Bruce. Their little bells around their necks give their location away but we could only pinpoint one cat.

We looked under every bed, under couches and high up on the cabinets to where they have recently learned to jump but there was no second cat. I pictured Bruce having escaped outside while the WiFi guy went back and forth inside and out so my husband and I started investigating the yard, bushes and under cars in our neighborhood. I called for him, but heard no bell. “Here kitty kitty! Where are you Bruce?” Where could he have gone?

I looked again everywhere in my house. Then, I experienced the gut wrenching hollowness that he was gone. Could the massive hawk who visits my backyard to hunt for bunnies and squirrels have taken him? What will life be like for my daughters and Bruce’s brother cat?

Questions swirled but the WiFi guy left. I wondered if he really understood that he might have let the cat out and forever changed our life.

My husband decided to lift the back of our couch and beat on the back of it just to see if the missing cat was hiding in there. And guess what? The cat made the decision to hide in a nook inside of this couch. It took fifteen minutes to woo him out. He just wouldn’t budge for a while. Once he came out, we lavished him with head rubs and sweet talk!

Perhaps the drilling of the installer had startled him. Hearing unfamiliar noise can be unsettling for anyone even cats. Our dog barks loudly when she hears out of the ordinary sounds but the cat seemed to react differently. He hid.

Finding a place to settle was the cat’s way of dealing with stress. I guess we are all a bit like Bruce at times. We steal away and most importantly, escape from the problem.

How we respond to stress is our coping mechanism. Some of us publicly display anger with our words and actions while others sit and stew. If the stress stemmed from a willful decision to sin, it comes naturally to hide from the truth. Sometimes, we get ashamed and like Bruce, find a comfortable place to rationalize our choice.

When Adam and Eve hid due to the shame of sin, they did not want God to see them. Hiding became their go-to mechanism. Not much has changed because none of us really want to reveal our issues or consequences from decisions we’ve made. It’s easier to steal away and remove the noise and problems for some people.

Unlike our family who was searching outside and inside for Bruce, God searched for Adam and Eve in the Garden. He wanted them to know that He was searching for them by verbally calling out in the Garden, “Where are you?” God is all knowing so He already knew that they had sinned, but He needed them to know that He wanted fellowship with them. Adam chose to come out of hiding and speak to God telling Him that he was afraid and naked.

God didn’t place shame on Adam. Sin did that.

One of the things that is a huge part of this story is that Adam came out of hiding. He told God why he hid. The reason: nakedness.

Adam’s mind now realized his physical condition of nakedness. God provided clothes from an animal because He cared about Adam and Eve. Prior to providing grace in their covering, He told them several consequences to their decision to sin.

But before they had to leave paradise in the Garden, they had His Grace.

Grace to cover their error.

Grace to make a way where there seemed to be no way.

Grace to help in their time of need.

When we hide due to sin or stress, God is near. Adam and Eve had never before been stressed out as much as when they chose to hide from God. God will meet you, my friend, just as He did in the Garden of Eden.

2 Corinthians 5:21 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Your life decisions may have caused you to hide but in reality, there is no hiding. God is calling to you now. “Where are you?” He asks. I love the words in 1 Corinthians 5:21 “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”.

He knows your location and desires fellowship with you. Be honest with God and become who He wants you to be.

Come out and be honest like Adam. Don’t be like my cat, Bruce, who would not come out from hiding for a very long time. God is waiting.

He is ready to meet you where you are. Jesus became our sacrifice for sin to cover our sins. No matter what has happened in the past, He will make a way where there seems to be no way.

I believe that God is still asking, “Where are you?” Perhaps it has been easier to not talk about the stuff we have held on to, but the Holy Spirit is gently calling you to share it. Share it in prayer and He will always have compassion and grace to help. Adam didn’t make the covering for his nakedness; God made it. And He will do it again.

I invite you to share your thoughts today with the God who sees, redeems and restores.