Before It’s Too Late

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

In the storyline of an old Little House on the Prairie episode titled “If I should Wake Before I Die” – an 80-year-old widow feels lonely for her children and grandchildren who never visit her. At the funeral of another widowed friend whose family members failed to show up for her last birthday party – one of the main, young characters declares that it is not fair for loved ones to ignore a birthday but show up for a funeral.  This prompts the surviving widow to make a decision to have her funeral wake before she dies. Accordingly, she enlists the help of the town doctor and her neighbors to secretly plan the event. On the day of the reception, she attends incognito at first with a veil hiding her face. It is not long until she surprises those present, including a young priest and her son whom she had not known was still alive. The event provides an occasion for reuniting the lady’s family and hopefully serves as a ‘wake-up’ call for all the participants to love each other here and now . . . while there’s still time.

Consider this question: If you could share a meal with anyone, past or present – who would that be? It’s an interesting inquiry which was regularly posed on a food segment of a weekly variety program.  The answers varied, depending on the role of the person being asked.  Some of the responses included the desire to share that meal with famous persons in history as well as individuals who had mentored those being asked. Interestingly enough – the replies frequently listed loved ones who had passed on.  Occasionally it crossed my mind if some of these folks perhaps had regrets for not spending enough time together in days gone by which were now lost.  For when we lose someone to whom we should have paid more attention – we don’t get any second chances to fulfill those “should’ve, would’ve, could’ves.” When we permit our lifestyle to disrupt maintaining contact with those whom we say we love, then we are potentially allowing ourselves to one day be floundering in a sea of regret.

In providing a similar warning, Jesus told this parable: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet’” (Luke 14:16-24).

The Parable of the Banquet reflects the relationship that many of us have developed with others who care about us. We say we have something “better” to do with our time but in all actuality are simply giving way to bad excuses, taking the place of what we know is the appropriate thing to do. In many cases, we are forfeiting fellowship with one who deeply cares and longs to spend time with us. Those who ignore the invitation miss out on a special gift and will ultimately choose their own destiny. This can occur in our families, with our friends, as well as in our other social contacts.  It can also transpire in our relationship with God. He wants His table to be full, and there will always be an open invitation for a seat there. The anticipation is that we will come and share in His fellowship. This puts a responsibility on us to accept the offer and likewise participate in the banquet. Jesus extends an invitation to all who will listen and are willing to accept it. Consequently, if we decide to delay until that day when the funeral plans are occurring – we will have missed out. So, take your place at the table today and enjoy the feast of a lifetime. Do so now . . . before it’s too late.

REFLECTION:  Are you making mistakes in your own life similar to those portrayed in this week’s devotion? Whose invitation are you neglecting? Jesus has invited you to spend time in his presence, to spend time in his Word, and to spend time in fellowship with Him. Have you exchanged the good things God has planned for you at His banquet table for something that seems better or more important at the moment?

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