When you think back over your life, think about some of the invitations you’ve received. Invitations can change the course of our lives, and if you don’t believe me, let me tell you about an invitation I received in college—an invitation that changed my life forever. I didn’t know it at the moment, but in looking back, it’s as clear as day.
I was in my first year of college. I never have been much of an outgoing person, so like the other non-outgoing students, we end up doing our homework in the student union since we have no friends and no place to go. So I’m sitting alone in the student union, doing my homework and in walks someone whom I was friendly with, but didn’t know very well, and he comes over to me and extends an invitation—an invitation that would completely change my life. He had been tasked by a professor to put together a team of students who would intern at a church the professor led in order to build up a youth program and help with the kids. They would attend this church every Sunday for the following year in order to become a part of that church. This kid was meeting with another friend to figure out who would make up this team. They really didn’t know who to ask. We were going to a Bible college, and if you’ve been to a Bible college you know that 50% of the kids are really weird, and another 25% are even weirder. So they walk into the Student Union, and I’m sitting there all alone doing my homework, and—no joke—I didn’t find this out until a year or two later, but he walks in with his friend and seeing me, says to his friend, “He doesn’t look weird, let’s ask him!” That’s honestly how it went. So he walks over and asks me if I’d be a part of his team to intern at this church. I have no friends, I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought to myself, “Friends?!” and then said, “Sure, I’m in, I’ll be a part of it!” That moment and that invitation completely transformed my life. For the next three years, I interned at that church, becoming very good friends with the professor. In fact, when the internship ended and I graduated, I was hired on as the youth pastor. And the friendships— there were friendships that developed on that team that have lasted to this day—over twenty years later. And something else happened. While I was there, I met this incredible young woman. I offered her an invitation—an invitation to go on a date. Thankfully, after putting up with my harassment and persistence, she finally said, “Yes.” Then, about a year-and-a-half later, I offered another invitation—this one to marry me—and she said “Yes” once again. She became my wife and we now have three beautiful girls.
In looking back, I can now see how that one invitation, years ago in that Student Union building, completely changed my life. If that guy had walked in, looked at me and said to himself, “He’s weird; I’m not asking him,” I would never have had those friendships, or my first job as a youth pastor, or met my wife, or have three incredible girls, or ended up pastoring this church. My entire life changed because of that one invitation. My guess is that if you look back over your life, and some of the things you’ve experienced, and some of the best times in your life, my guess is that all of that can be brought back to an invitation—someone extending an invitation to you. I’m thinking the same could be said for the worst times in your life—they too, happened by invitation, and you find yourself thinking, “I shouldn’t have answered that call,” “I shouldn’t have gone out on that date,” “I shouldn’t have texted back,” I shouldn’t have taken that job,” “I shouldn’t have met her for drinks.” You see, an invitation really does have the power to change everything.