Some of the best ideas in life just come to you. They are not crafted in a boardroom or the result of a lengthy group think-tank; nope, they just arrive in your mind and take root in your imagination. Hard to shake them once they begin to grow there. I suppose you could say that this idea began about a month ago when I was reading the words of Jesus (Isa), casting vision for what living according to the Kingdom of God might truly look like (Luke 14:15-24). He offered a snapshot of Kingdom life, speaking about a man who invited people to a great banquet feast. Those originally invited were quick to make excuses as to why they were unable to make it. I suppose you could sum up their responses in the phrase, “We are too busy to make time for such a thing.” I love the advice Jesus offered to those who experience excuses such as these. He does not advocate becoming frustrated, nor does he encourage recipients of such excuses to absorb them as personal rejection or to lose any sleep over the matter. On the contrary, we are to shake off the comments and then simply revise our invitation list. Jesus encouraged those making the invitations, to go out and invite the poor, the destitute and those who will never be able to repay us for such an invitation. Living a Kingdom honoring life requires that we do not operate as the world so often demonstrates, rather we blaze a new trail; Invite strangers, love those who society overlooks and do it in a way that is costly, without expecting anything in return. Those are not dreamy ideas to ponder in church, they are blueprints for a lifestyle of those who call Jesus King and who desire to live in a manner that honors Him as such.
One of the greater blessings in my life has been keeping an open mind to the many locals who I meet from around the globe. For reasons unknown to me, in the past year I have continually bumped into more and more men and women from Ghana. I meet them at Harris Teeter, Home Depot, toll booths, and all manner of random places. It has gotten to the point that when my wife Sandra and I ask strangers where they are from and they answer Ghana, we just look at each other, smile and then get to know our new acquaintances. We have been inviting this growing group to our home for dinner once each month and building a deeper relationship with them over time. Last Tuesday, we had 10 show up for a makeshift Thanksgiving-style dinner. Eight of the ten happened to be from Tamale, Ghana, the same place where we serve at a camp each August. Our new friends from Tamale are primarily Muslim, so we simply continue to get to know them, feed them in a banquet style monthly feast and live in such a way that we honor Christ (Isa) and His Kingdom.
“So what”s the next step?” I was asking myself that question. Then, shopping at Harris Teeter I ran into my friend Justice in the frozen goods section, where he works. I asked him what he does with his free time since his family is back in Ghana. He told me that he does not ever take a long break or vacation, but asked me what I do with my family. I told him that someone had kindly given us a timeshare to use in Florida for 4 days near Disney in Orlando. He then asked me the question, “What”s a Disney?” “What”s a Disney?” Are you serious? As the conversation followed, I came to realize that not only did he and his good friend Nap not know what “a Disney” was, they have never even been to an amusement park of any kind. That conversation connected in my mind with the picture Jesus offered of a banquet and before long the ideas started to take root and grow to the point that I was praying about the practical application. By the time I was home I pitched it to my wife: “Sandra, what do you think of Nap and Justice joining our family for vacation, so we can show them what a Disney is?” I love my wife – she is so full of grace and immediately responded “Yes!” (We are a perfect match). Before you know it we were making plans, budgeting and so thankful to the friends who gave us a timeshare to use this week, making a vacation possible for our family. That was part of what inspired us to give back.
So where are we now? We are having the time of our lives for a few days in the warmth of Florida, introducing our friends Nap and Justice to roller coasters, different foods, elevators that drop at a rapid rate just for the thrill, rides that get you ridiculously wet, shows that make you howl with laughter and time together with new friends who have never had a vacation in America. I am learning that you enjoy these times so much more when they are spent with those who appreciate every second of the journey as though it sacred. This trip has been a true blessing for our family and “yes” we did get 6 silly “Thing” t-shirts to wear around the park together (See pic at top of page), even though they only sold numbers 1-4. Let me close with a quote from Nap earlier today, “These rides make me scared and happy together and I am so grateful to see such things!”