I am not a party person. I am so far on the “I” side of the Myers-Briggs scale I nearly fall off it. I love being a pastor, and I love my people, but socializing with a roomful of acquaintances on a surface level feels like I imagine purgatory would feel, if I believed in it.
Nevertheless, I enjoy a well crafted party with people I love. We’ve had our share this year, with the youngest’s wedding right in the middle of 2019. A shower. A wedding. A reception back home. All of it. And all of it we crafted carefully, with their tastes and our budget in mind.
We planned themes, grew and arranged flowers, drilled holes in centerpieces and hand-letters signs that told people exactly where to put their cards and how to play the date night game. While we did much of the work ourselves, we had a dress, a caterer, and a photographer that knocked it out of the park.
We missed nothing. It was a wonderful day.
Time to Party
As we’ve been walking through Hebrews, off and on, these last few months, we come to a passage that also knocks it out of the park. So far, Hebrews has been shopping, setting the table, making menus, crafting decorations, and sending invites. The writer has missed nothing.
Now—in chapter ten—it’s time to party.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10.19-25, NLT)
Verse 22 is the party—“Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.”
The theme of the party is restoration. The venue is an empty tomb. The decorations are a cross and crown. The invitation is to everyone.
We are not simply to come to the party either but to come boldly. “Go right in” is the phrase people use when they know the person invited belongs. It’s what we say to friends—come on in, and use the side door (the one for friends). You know you can walk in anytime. We don’t offer that privilege to strangers. Only those who have our complete love and trust get the “come on in.”
Other translations use the words “confidently,” “with full assurance,” or “boldly.” Literally, it’s “free and fearless.” It means the same—go toward God as you would anyone who invited you in like you belonged there. Because you do.
For many, boldness is not our default. When it comes to any relationships, fear predominates. Fear that we will not be accepted. Fear that we can never be good enough. Fear that we don’t deserve forgiveness. Fear that our love will not be reciprocated.
Fear drives so much, and has since Eden.
God puts that fear to rest here. If we’re told to come boldly to the one who made us, who knows us best, whom we’ve actually offended the most, but who loves us everlastingly and unconditionally, then where is the place for any fear at all? If that relationship is restored, what is there to fear in any other?
What would it be like to live free and fearless?
Trust is hard. Fear is easy.
- Relationships fail us.
- Spouses leave, or don’t fulfilled their vows to honor us, protect us.
- Friends betray us to move up social ladder.
- Relatives abuse you in ways no one talks about.
- Coworkers throw you under the bus to cover their butts.
- Your child screams swear words at you, and you believe growing up means breaking apart.
Trust is fragile.
Trust is hard. Fear is easy.
If the only metric we have to measure relationships is human ones, and we are human so it is, then we project all that on God.
- God becomes the girl who wouldn’t let us sit with her.
- The kid who bullied you.
- The spouse who betrayed you.
- The relative who abused you.
- The father you could never please.
Trust is hard. Fear is easy.
Two years ago, I went to a friend’s home in London for a writing retreat (I know, rough), and two of the other women voiced their life’s dream to got to Paris. They begged me to go, too, since I’d been a few times and could be a guide. So we made a day trip, and our first stop (OK, after Laduree and Berthillon) was Notre Dame. Notre Dame was my first love of buildings, and I couldn’t wait to see my old friend.
We saw a long line near one door. Very long. One of the other women nosed around and found another door on the other side. No one was lined up there. So, maybe the other line was for the tower? Because my friend is bold, and because she has an auto-immune disease that makes standing for a long time difficult, she decided to use the door with no line. Boldly, we walked right in.
We gaped round the altar, stood in awe at the familiar rose windows, and walked the checkered floor I love so well. Yes, we cut the line, we realized later. But the door was open. And we decided to walk through it without hesitation.
That was the last time I saw my favorite place in one piece. I’m so glad we chose to go through the door.
This is the exuberant, joyful, excited boldness God wants for us when he talks about us coming near to him. Without fear, with excitement, believing this is the best dream of our lives. Because the door was opened, and all we have to do is walk in.
We do not have to measure God by the instability of human relationships. God invites us—and he invites us as He would a friend.
Maybe when trust is hard is the time we most need this party. Not a fake it, put up a front, false happiness party—a party that says what matters will stand.
A party that defies death, decay, rising smoke and tells it all—you do not win.
Because it is finished.
Death—you have no victory.
Despair—you have no home here.
Fire and smoke—you cannot take away what matters.
Restoration is beginning. Reclamation is here. New beginnings are ready—don’t despair—come to the party.