The Meaning of the Party
Can you remember the first party you ever attended? I can remember my first one. Ruth Turvey had invited me to her eighth birthday party. She had been born one day before me, eight years previously. I had received an invitation. It had my name on it, and this was a very special event because I had never been an invited guest or received an invitation with my name on it before.
Over the last seven years God the Father has been inviting us to a party in Toronto. It’s one of the Father’s special places where a party has been prepared for us just so that we can enjoy His presence. He has given each one of us a personal invitation, one with our name written on it. He is extending it to us, and all we have to do is receive. He longs for us to come so that He may lavish us with His love. No matter what state our lives have been in, He extends His hands of love to the broken, the barren and the rejected, to those who have never felt special or have received an invitation before.
In the past, when I had been invited to an event, it stood out in my memory because I tended to feel that I had come up to the mark of what others had expected of me. But this is a different party, one with no measuring rules, no expectations, no performance, only an unconditional offer to anyone who longs to receive. And we need to come, with the simplicity of a child and with the same wonder and expectation we had when we attended our first birthday party.
Joyful children embracing all the father has provided.
In 1988, I was invited to meet the Queen of England and receive a presentation. I was given the privilege of having two people accompany me. I chose my father and my wife, Sharon. I had never been to such an important event in my life. A fanfare by the Regiment of the Blues and Royals heralded her arrival. The first notes of the music transported me in to the majestic realm of the royal celebration. It was a joyful occasion as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England and the Commonwealth entered the Guild Hall in London. I remember absorbing as much of the atmosphere as I could. I recall looking over at one wall and seeing the bust of Prime Minister Disraeli and on the opposite wall, Sir Winston Churchill. All my senses and emotions were bombarded with the feeling that this was such a joyful occasion to be able to share with others and have them share with me.
Likewise, Toronto has been one of the Father’s most joyful occasions where we have shared with others and felt God touch every sense and emotion as He manifests His presence. We have shaken, laughed and cried and sometimes been unable to control our emotions and physical responses to His presence. We have celebrated the joyful occasion with praise and worship, singing our prayers of devotion. Everything provided, nothing needed, just joyful children embracing all the Father has provided to heal our pain, turn our sorrow into joy and clothe us with garments of praise instead of spirits of heaviness.
Parties Reveal the Heart
In the book of Esther, King Xerxes prepared a party and gave special invitations to all in his realm. He wanted everyone to share in this celebration as he displayed the splendour and glory of his majesty. The king allowed each one to come and drink in his own way (Esther 1:8) from goblets that were magnificent in their diversity. No one was to be left out because of his or her preferred way of drinking. It wasn’t the containers or the method of drinking but the extravagance of the king that determined how long the party lasted, in this case a full 180 days. But how often do we allow the petty differences of our denominational stances and our liturgical routines to hinder us from attending the party and drinking the new wine. Charismatics and Pentecostals can be as prone to these two stumbling blocks as can the Anglican and Orthodox churches. Let’s not become distracted by the containers, our diverse religious preferences, but attracted to what is being poured out, the new wine of the Father’s love.
Parties are always a time for giving and recieving gifts.
Parties reveal the heart of those invited. Vashti, the king’s first wife, refused to attend and quickly drew others into her rebellion. She was removed from her position as queen and never again had the privilege of entering the presence of the king. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “The heart is the wellspring of life” and Jesus said, “It is out of our hearts that our mouths speak.” (Matthew 15:18) While her response to the party removed Vashti, it also revealed Esther. I believe that the party which the Father is throwing during this outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to display the splendour of His Kingdom and our response will determine whether we continue to enjoy His presence.
Will you receive His gifts? Parties are always times of giving and receiving gifts. Esther received the gifts that were provided to prepare her to be in the King’s presence. In the same way when we receive gifts, it reveals more about the one who gives them than the one who receives. So it is with the gift of God’s unconditional love: it has nothing to do with us. If it did, it would render it conditional love.
For the past 7 years I have been to Toronto on many occasions but at the most recent Father Loves You conference I received a wonderful gift of His healing love regarding an event that happened in my childhood in the context of God’s Party. I had enjoyed the teaching of Jack Frost during the day, and in the evening I went forward to receive prayer though I was not conscious of having a specific need. Yet as I lay on the floor, the Holy Spirit brought back to me this memory of the bicycle I had stolen when I was 10. The Holy Spirit reminded me that after pleading with my dad to purchase one for me it was to no avail. All my friends were getting bikes and I was the odd one out. I then took it into my own hands to provide a bicycle for myself. I stole one, but two days later the police came to my home. I was taken to the police station with my dad to face charges of theft. I remember my dad saying to me, “No son of mine steals, now take it back.” Those words made me feel like I was no one’s son. I couldn’t return the bicycle because the police had already recovered it and returned it to its rightful owner.
Then the Holy Spirit began to reveal the ways I had dishonoured my Father in not waiting for his provision and acting independently of him by stealing the bicycle. He also revealed the shame I had brought upon my family. As I lay there I remembered the first manifestation I had when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit began. I had fallen to the floor on my back and began moving my legs as if riding a bicycle. I didn’t know what was happening to me then, but now, seven years later, the Holy Spirit showed me that God had restored me, removed my shame and released me from the curse of dishonouring my father. The Father’s love poured in. I had received my party present, His overwhelming love. On my return home, I arranged to take my dad out for a meal and to ask his forgiveness for dishonouring him and cutting myself off from his provision. I began by saying, “Dad, when I was 10...” He stopped me and said, “the time you stole the bicycle...” I said “Yes” and asked him to forgive me. He reached over and embraced me like the dad I knew at 10 years of age. He kissed me for 30 seconds, but it seemed like 38 years. He said these words, “Trev, you are the best son I have.” We dissolved in tears, laughter and some more hugs. Then my dad told me, “What you didn’t know then was that I had already bought you a bicycle for your birthday and had been waiting to give it to you.”
What if I had rejected my heavenly Father’s invitation to the party in Toronto? What if I hadn’t kept partying all these years? I may never have been reconciled to my earthly dad. I can only wonder what will happen next if I keep enjoying my heavenly Father’s lavish feast. How about you?