I knew the moment the invitation was offered that I had no choice. I had to accept. To decline was not even a possibility.
I had been cutting down the almond trees behind our house. I used to let them get good and dry and then use them for firewood to heat our home. One winter my boys convinced me to let one of the downed trees stay where it fell. They wanted to use it for a fort.
Then they went scrounging for materials to complete their project. They found scraps of twine and rope, old broom handles, cardboard and ratty tarps. They borrowed my hatchet and saw to cut limbs in strategic places to open up their living quarters. They piled up cut grass for walls and a thatched roof. Soon, many of their favorite things from their room made their way outside and into their fort. What would a fort be without Nerf guns or pirate telescopes?
After a while, I would tell the boys I needed the tree for firewood. After some tearful negotiation, they would talk me into letting a recently downed tree stay where it fell so that they could make a new fort. Then the process of transferring their wealth from one tree to another would begin. Some of their treasures would need to be thrown away. Then off they would go, scrounging for new treasures to use. The neighbors seemed to have an endless supply of items they were willing to part with.
My boys were on their third tree. It was while moving into that particular tree that I received a compelling invitation. It was on a Sunday afternoon that my boys came up with the inevitable idea of spending the night in their fort. With great excitement that told me of their plans. They talked of getting out our backpacking pads and sleeping bags. They wanted a campfire so they could roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Then came the invitation.
“Dad, can you sleep in the fort with us?” There was no way I could refuse. It was a school night, so I had to postpone. I told my boys that next weekend, on Saturday night, we would all spend the night in their fort inside a downed tree.
Every night for the next week they talked about spending the night outside in their fort, counting down the days until they could sleep there. They were so excited!
When Saturday evening came I got out the pads and sleeping bags and somehow squeezed us all in under that tree. Out came the lawn chairs and a picnic table. I started the fire and we had our hot dogs and marshmallows. Night came and the stars began to come out. It was beautiful. As we crawled into our sleeping bags I fully expected this to be a short night out in the orchard. I figured that after a while the boys would get scared, cold or uncomfortable and want to come back to the house and sleep in their own beds. The boys slept like logs all night. Me, not so much.
But that didn’t really matter. I was with my boys. They gave me an invitation I could not refuse. They wanted me to be with them and they were excited to have me there when I accepted their invitation.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in . . .”
When we invite Jesus into our lives it is to Him a compelling invitation, one that he will not refuse. I know the feeling. I bet you do, too.