The arrival of a package from a dear relative brought to my thinking a flood of memories of days past. It was a book of family history and recipes of wonderful meals we have shared together. Pleasant memories of loved ones, many now at home with the Lord, brought to my thinking the words of the Apostle Paul as he reflected on his progeny in the Lord. The Christians in Thessalonica had become strong believers in Jesus Christ. “But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you” (1 Thess 3:6 NIV). How gracious of our God to give us these fragrances of memories to enrich our lives.
There are circumstances, events, discussions, and occasions that seem to stick in the mind to our benefit and encouragement. This writer still remembers certain things that occurred to him in church: mother taking him by the arm, opening her narrow, long brown purse, and pulling out a paint stirrer. It only took one application of that paddle to learn that behaving in church was better than seeing that purse open. Then there were sermons preached by a masterful pastor who applied himself to in-depth teaching of the Word. Memory recalls several messages, like the one based on a single word – “come.” It was the divine invitation found throughout Scripture concerning man’s spiritual need and God’s provision of salvation.
During His ministry on earth, Jesus would issue that invitation to people weighed down by religious ritual and outward acts of man-made traditions … “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30 NIV). The magnitude and scope of that invitation encompasses all of humanity. “Come,” is not on the basis of one’s ability or merit, nor are the depths of one’s sin in view … “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NIV), but “come,” by an act of simple faith, accept the divine gift … “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV).
That invitation from God to each person began in the Garden when the pre-incarnate Christ called Adam and Eve out from their hiding place. The nation Israel heard from Isaiah the invitation … “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isa 55:1 NIV). Embedded in the memory of this writer, though only a young boy, was that sermon to “come” to Christ by faith alone in Christ alone. The invitation extended by the Heavenly Father was personal … “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13 NIV). “He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12a NIV).