Risen with Him

Risen with Him
“Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.... Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." – Luke 14:21b, 23

When I was in kindergarten, my family moved to Wharton, Texas. One day I noticed a shaggy, black and white dog laying across the street. He guarded the steps of an old house that had a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Each day, he stayed in the same spot waiting for his master to return. After a while, I realized that his owner was not coming back. He looked hungry and hopeless, so I offered him half of my hot dog. The dog that I named Stepguard found a new home, name and identity. He rose above his old life and took on a new one with me.

Over the years, our friendship grew, and his loyalty showed no bounds. He comforted me when I cried, provided companionship when I was lonely, and eagerly waited for my return from the school bus, just to shower my face with dog kisses. If I was home, Stepguard was by my side. When I went off to the Army, he looked longingly out the window each day hoping that today would be the day I returned.

Not long after I left for my duty post, old age took its toll on Stepguard and at eighteen he passed on. My mom told me that my friend was gone. When I think back about him waiting for my return, it shows that he truly loved me until the day he died. Stepguard was abandoned and hopeless, but still offered his unconditional love to the one who first loved him.

In the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:15-24), Jesus spoke of a man who was holding a great feast and invited many to attend. Those invited all sent in their pledge of attendance, yet when the date came, they were all so busy with their daily lives that they could not fulfill their word. Thus, the man sent out his servants into the streets for all the social misfits and broken who then were invited and gladly attended. Then he even brought in many who had to be compelled to attend against their initial reluctance. They all celebrated and rejoiced, while those initially invited missed out.

Too often we allow our ambitions and goals to shift our focus off of the Master and we make excuses. We are too busy for church, Bible study, prayer, or fellowship. We have forgotten how blessed we are and that we have been raised with Him for a purpose. God calls us for so much more.

It is ironic that God brought to my mind the example of a shaggy homeless dog as my example. We all were once lost in sin, alone, and totally hopeless. Even worse, the sentence of death hung over our heads. Jesus died to pay the debt we owed and has welcomed us into His family. By His grace, He has given us a new name, a new identity, hope and a mission. Jesus has called us to stay vigilant as we wait for His return, for our old life has been buried with Christ.

We have been invited to His Great Supper, and Jesus calls us to spread the invitation to all. Jesus calls us to share His love with a fallen world and to invite the "Less than the least of these thy brethren" to a feast, whose only cost is accepting the invitation. Like Stepguard, I have been given a new life. I have died to my old life and have risen with Him.

In thanks, my life is my devotion, as I wait for Him to return. I cannot help but to love, for He first loved me.