When I went shopping with my daughters and granddaughter last week, I knew it would be a different kind of outing. As we entered the mall, we put on our masks-a requirement for that location. We stayed close by each other, often repeating ourselves as a mask interfered with speaking and understanding each other.

Unlike other times, we were not window shopping or leisurely browsing, but on a mission with a list, hopeful we’d find what we needed. Perhaps some of those stores did have our items, but we’ll never know. A sign that read, “Fitting rooms closed”, beckoned us to turn around and head to another store. At our next stop, a greeter with an iPad recording the number of “guests” who entered and left, kindly told us we’d have to wait, because they were “at capacity”. We waited–their fitting rooms were open, and we checked off our list as we made purchases.

I’m not complaining—just observing–and I respect precautions, rules, and a desire to ensure public health and safety. Yes it was inconvenient, and I was thankful we found what we were after, but front and center, I found a treasure in an unexpected place.

Image by Miles D. Miller from Pixabay

I realized I will never hear “closed” or “at capacity” when I pray.

Instead, I will always hear, “Come”,  an open invitation with no limits.

I have an open invitation to receive:

Rest from daily stresses: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Satisfaction at a deep level: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV)

Assurance of the unfailing love of God:Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.( Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)

Open access, always available, never too busy: Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8 a NIV)

Mercy and grace for challenges: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

Nothing is too small or too big: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, (come) present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 6-7 NIV)

There is no mask to impede communication; we’re understood and the response is clear. In life’s obstacles and stresses, our changes invite us to come and make new discoveries.

It’s your turn. What have you found when you accept the open invitation to “come’?

Well into the first semester, here are 15 Timely Thoughts to Encourage College Freshmen

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