Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)
This past Friday I was honored to be a part of the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine* prom event. My church welcomed more than a few hundred people from the special needs community to an evening of limo rides, karaoke, a red carpet entrance, games, dinner, photo booth, and dancing (so much dancing!). Every guest was paired with a buddy whose privilege it was to experience the night together; there were people serving meals, assisting in bathrooms, helping with activities, and even a crowd of paparazzi asking for autographs and selfies as guests walked the red carpet. I am so grateful for the Tim Tebow Foundation’s vision and the support they provided to make the event happen in multiple locations around the world and for all who participated to make this wonderful night happen.
When I finally had the chance to sit down, eat, and rest my tiring feet, I looked up and saw all that I needed to see to make the night unforgettable. A dapper young man and a dazzling young woman were alone on the dance floor dancing their hearts out as everyone else ate. Fascinating and memorable moments filled the night, but this one stood out above the rest. In that brief amount of time all that I needed to know about why we did this, why it was worth it, and how significant the evening was, spun and jumped and smiled and glided across the dance floor.
It was extraordinary.
Living in a world where we are daily inundated with pain, suffering, ugliness, and tragedy I cherish these moments. It’s marvelous that this portrait of hope and beauty came from people often marginalized and forgotten—people who are treated as an inconvenience, humans thought by some to be something less than just that. The best things often come from the most unexpected places. But I selfishly live my life thinking I know where God is going to do something great. When will I learn?
God gives His best gifts in disguised packages.
There is that passage from Luke 14 in which Jesus tells the guy throwing the party that, “inviting the rich or your family or friends is easy and they are people that will take care of you. Instead of inviting them, throw a party for people who have no way of returning the favor. If you do this, you will be blessed.” I don’t know about you, but I’m often spending my time with people who I think can give me equal or more than I give them. Convenience can be a tricky enemy. Yet, Jesus draws me somewhere out of my element. He takes me to places where I can truly see how beautiful this life is. And that’s when I experience what it means to be blessed. I hope and pray that I continue to have these opportunities and experiences. May you walk through the door when the chance comes your way. You won’t want to miss the party.
*If you’d like to see a bit of what Night to Shine was like, check it out here.