Decades ago, while still in my hometown of La Paz, Bolivia, birthday celebrations were a big thing. With a handful of invitations, I ran from house to house on the dirt streets where my friends lived. Anticipation danced in my heart as I delivered them with pride because my Mom had designed them with colorful writing.

My parents gathered enough money to buy ingredients for a birthday cake. And the other treat at my 10th birthday party was made by mixing red Jell-O with evaporated milk. Since we didn't have the luxury to own a refrigerator, Mom placed them outside, hoping the chilly night would make them gel.

And when my special day came, the friends who accepted the invitation, filed in through the worn, rusty gate of our house. They carried gifts. And in turn, I carry that memory in my heart.

Decade's later invitations took a different meaning. During the storms of life, I ran down the dirt street of worry and self-pity. The only way to conquer all that was to extend an invitation to Jesus. He accepted and together we celebrated a restoring of my soul.

We can all do the same. But the invitation has to be specific:

* We invite Him into our storm.
* We invite Him into the heartache of the moment.
* We invite Him to share the disappointment in our marriage.
* We invite Him to share the longing for a solution.
* We invite Him into the diagnosis from the doctor.
* And we invite Him to be with us when we face the end of something we treasure.

When Jesus accepts the invitation, He shows up carrying the gift of His promises, colorfully wrapped in His love. They repeat: "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

Into what situation will you invite Jesus today?

Janet Eckles

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