It was different than most of the conferences I have ministered at and I loved it. It was a little chaotic. A little messy. But a lot anointed.
God showed up in the midst of a crowd of women from a local shelter, women who had been incarcarated or addicted, and women seeking something more.
In Matthew 22, a man goes to great lengths to create a wedding banquet. When he sends out the invites no one can come. They have flimsy excuses.
So, the wedding banquet could go on with empty seats and throwaway food, or the host could fill the seats.
Which he did.
He sent his servants into the highways and byways — a.k.a. the streets and the hidden places — and he asked people to come. The good people, the broken people, the bad people. And soon the seats were filled and the prime rib was carved. But that is only part of the story. . .
Because this wasn’t a real story at all, but a parable. A teaching.
Jesus was trying to show what the kingdom of God looked like.
Saturday I saw a glimpse of the kingdom of God. It was women weeping with joy, one woman weeping so hard she could barely catch her breath as she said, “This. . . every word… was for me.”
It was watching women stand in the middle of my message, so hungry for what God was showing them that they didn’t want to wait.
It was watching Deanna Allen, the founder of the Destiny Conference, one a meth addict, now a woman who ministers in hundreds of prisons across the nation with a proclamation that God frees us, as she danced across the stage in joy sharing what God had done, and what God would and could do.
It was sitting in the hallway with a woman who didn’t go in to the conference. Maybe out of shame. Maybe out of pain. Maybe out of anger. I knelt in front of her and asked her to share her story. As we prayed together she told me that she was raised in church and had fallen so far away she didn’t think she could ever come back.
The invitation to the really great party was for her. And she RSVP’d to that invitation.
Want to throw a really great party? Invite those who may never walk in to the doors of your church, or your conference, or your home and show them Jesus.
Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come!
He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’
They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.
Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.
Matthew 22:1-10 (The Message)