We all get those annoying calls.
Be it the doorbell, telephone, email, whatsapp or delivery method of the moment, we all get the call from that person we really don’t want to hear from at that moment (or ever sometimes).
Just when you want to spend time on your own, or with your spouse there comes the chime.
“Can I pop round for 5 minutes?”
Your heart sinks.
To be fair, I’ve been the annoying caller as often as I’ve received them. When I first left home I wasn’t used to having friends – real friends – my own age. I didn’t know the etiquette. I’d lived a very isolated life, partly by choice to avoid pain, and partly because my pain overflowed and infected everyone near me so I got left out a lot until that point. I was not quite 20 when I left home, and I was welcomed into my then girlfriend’s group of friends from her university Christian Union. I was wary because I felt quite hurt by church at that point. I’d been set on a path to study for ordination in the Church of England, then because I was considering moving away and – for financial reasons initially – sharing digs with the girl I was dating my vicar told me he was withdrawing support for my application.
“Living in sin” wasn’t something I’d thought about, mainly because I recognised already that as far as sin goes we’re all pretty much in the same boat, just wearing different coloured blocks of concrete on our feet as swim-fins. Any sin separates us from God.
But I had this radical idea that Jesus was bigger than that. That He got into the boat with a chisel and chipped the concrete away so we could be free of the burden and walk with Him.
Apparently I was wrong was the message I got.
So I abandoned the hope of becoming a “professional” Christian and found myself wandering aimlessly into business management and customer service, never finding a passion for what I was doing, and resenting having been coerced into that stream.
I kept coming back to the idea of Jesus knocking on my door though.
My Grandfather was a minister, a Salvation Army Officer in his youth. He would advise me “The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman, David. He never forces His way in. You need to invite Him.” I didn’t get it back then. I was too
young angry to grasp what he was telling me.
Jesus is a guest in our life. He will not force His presence on us or His wisdom over our own. If we choose to follow a different path, He will wait patiently while we smash headlong into the cliff, like Wiley Coyote in the “Roadrunner” cartoons, then pick up the pieces and help us back to the safe path with Him after we’ve tried to force our way through the painted illusion a few times.
Basically, He waits for us to get tired of the constant bruising from running into an imaginary tunnel we painted in the first place and reach a place of acceptance where we invite Him to come in and share Wisdom with us.
I’ve heard preachers say God can’t be surprised. I don’t believe that’s true. There are several places where it’s recorded that the behaviour of the Israelites was so bizarre that God says “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.” (Jeremiah 7:31) God is horrified that people created in His image could do something as horrific as human sacrifice, to the point that t was something He had never even imagined – He was surprised.
Even more surprising was that it was a regular happening, not just a once off.
We look back today in horror at the practice. Maybe a thousand years from now people will do the same when they look at selective abortion in lieu of exercising choice before the pregnancy.
But Jesus waits to be invited in.
If you don’t believe in healing, don’t worry: you’ll never have to deal with it. Same goes for financial Blessing. Jesus is a guest. He will never force us to accept a gift we don’t want.
Just consider for a moment: We were given Free-Will that God Himself has said He will not interfere with.
Imagine you go to a friend’s home and during your visit he kicks the cat. It’s his cat. You can sympathise with the feline, ask him to stop, threaten to leave, even threaten him with bodily harm for the assault; but at the end of the day you can’t un-kick the cat. And you can’t force him to never kick it again unless you take the cat away from him.
But you’re a guest in his house. And maybe what you see as abuse is a game they play together. The “kick” may have been more gentle than it appeared. I rough-house with my dogs. Anyone seeing me play with them would think I was being harsh, but I guarantee I come out of it worse for wear than they do.
As a guest in another’s home, we are invited in and the homeowner has the right to eject us should they choose to, or not let us in in the first place.
Jesus comes as a guest to us. He’s not SWAT with a search warrant and breaking down the door – although He has the power to do that. He comes as a guest and awaits invitation.
A personal example. When I moved to South Africa I wasn’t 100% certain it was the right timing so I invited Jesus to show me it was. I went to an estate agent to put my home on the market at 12pm. On the way home I got a call from the agent saying he had someone wanting to come and see the property right now. At 12:30pm I pulled into my drive to find agent and prospect waiting for me – I still don’t know how they got there before me. At 12:40pm the prospect accepted the full asking price and by 1pm the paperwork was signed confirming the sale of the house. In context: two doors away and identical house had been on the market for over a year for a lower price. The buyer had seen that house and rejected it as the price was too high.
So I moved to Cape Town. Very relieved I might add.
I had diabetes and gout at the time. After I’d been here for about a year the gout flared up and I was essentially crippled by it. I couldn’t walk and just the weight of a sheet made it feel like there was in insane imp inside my toe joint using dynamite and axes to hammer his way out. I prayed and felt the Holy Spirit tell me the gout was done.
Within an hour the pain, swelling and discolouration had gone completely. It’s never come back. I’ve not changed my eating habits in any way, in fact my eating habits should have made it much worse by now, but the gout is gone. When God does a work, it’s complete.
But I’m still diabetic. I couldn’t trust Jesus enough to let go of that. So I still have it. Every so often I get the prompt “Ready yet?” My heart says a resounding “YES!”, but my mind gets in the way. I get filled with “what if” questions. “What if it doesn’t work?”, “What if this isn’t God?”
So I’m stuck with diabetes until I can get my head out of the way. I know from Isaiah and Peter that by Jesus’s stripes I’m healed – of everything. I’ve seen in not just with gout but also with acute injuries to most of my body at some point. But somehow I can’t get it through for the diabetes.
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t heal diabetes. I know people He has healed of it. It just means Jesus won’t force Himself on me. He goes as far as I allow him to.
He is a guest.
If you visit a friend for a week, you don’t redecorate the house. It’s not yours to do. You’re a guest.
Why do we think Jesus would be any different when He comes into our life?
He stands and knocks, and waits for an invitation.
Surely you have room for a guest?