Invitations. Life is full of them. Some invitations we remember happily; the invitation to a birthday party, the invitation to a prom, the invitation to a wedding, the invitation to accept a job. I remember the day at Eastern University back in 1992 when the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences poked his head into my small cubby hole of an office and said, with a grin on his face, Well, you want a job?” My response was an immediate yes!” What I had hoped for, prayed for, and worked for was now possible, depending on how I responded to the invitation.

Just about a year ago I was offered another invitation. The clearness committee” of Renovaré had finished its work and I received the offer to become Renovaré’s president. I had thought I would finish my life’s work at Eastern but God had something else in store for me, something unexpected, new, challenging, fulfilling, and fun. I’m loving my new job.

Even more recently I’ve received another invitation: to blog once a week on Renovaré’s website. I’ve never blogged before in my life – is blogged” a verb? I look forward to sharing my questions and ponderings with you in the weeks to come. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful. I hope so.

I think of other invitations God has offered to his image-bearers, ones more glorious and more difficult, invitations of greater dimension and deeper demand. Dietrich Bonhoeffer specifically comes to mind. Bonhoeffer had spent a number of fruitful and happy years in the United States, enjoying studying at Union Theological Seminary, attending weekend services at local African-American churches in New York, and generally soaking in the rich cultural life offered to him in the United States. Simultaneously, across the Atlantic, cultural insanity was gripping Germany as the ideology of the Nazis – embodied in the troubled mind, words, and actions of Adolf Hitler – was engulfing Bonhoeffer’s native homeland. While safe and comfortable in the U.S., Bonhoeffer received an invitation – what I would call a strong nudge from the Holy Spirit – to return home. Was he fully aware of what awaited him in Germany? He was to face opposition, fear, fatigue, disappointment, misunderstanding, loneliness, imprisonment, and, finally, against all his hopes for the future, death at the end of an SS rope.

Did Christ force Bonhoeffer to return? No. Jesus simply issued an invitation. Come home, Dietrich. There is work for you to do here. I will ask much of you. But I promise you that I will give you what you need to do what I ask of you. You will suffer, but in and through your suffering life will blossom and light will radiate. Dietrich, I’m calling you home. I’m calling you to follow me. I’m asking for your hopes, your desires, your future. I promise I will never leave you or forsake you, though I will ask of you everything you have to offer.”

As I ponder Jesus’ invitation to Bonhoeffer and his willingness, even eagerness, to respond, I’m reminded of Bonhoeffer’s words regarding following Christ: When Christ calls a man to follow, he beckons him to come and die.” And yet in the dying – at least in Bonhoeffer’s view, and surely in Jesus’ – life is found, fulfillment experienced, hope renewed. Who would have thought? Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die…” (John 12:24).

You can catch up with all of Chris’s posts at Conversations with Chris.”