importunate persuasion

importunate persuasion

Jesus replied, “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.… Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14:16-18, 23-24).

On the heels of my previous post, many caring friends have asked me regarding “how things went” this past Wednesday evening. For the record, “things” went fine … better than I had anticipated. The new clergy family will be a lovely addition to this church. Long before my family ever set foot in this community, God considered the length of our tenure here and planned accordingly. He’s got it covered and will continue in his faithfulness to minister to the needs, dreams, and desires of this congregation… of this, I am certain. But this post really isn’t about “how things went” Wednesday evening. Rather, it is about “how things went” in the moments prior to Wednesday evening.

Before we get there, let me set the stage by relaying to you a conversation I had with my daughter a few weeks ago. It went something like this…

“Mommy, when you last saw Gayle, did you tell her about Jesus?”

“Yes, honey, I told her.”

“Did she understand? Does she know Jesus?”

“To the best of her ability, I think that she does, Amelia.”

“Then, mommy, you have a crown in heaven.”

“Oh precious one, there’s nothing I’d like more than to cast that crown at the feet of Jesus one day.”

“Mommy, promise me that the next time you see Gayle, if I’m with you, promise me you’ll stop so that I can meet her.”

“I promise. I think she’d like to meet you.”


I had the opportunity to make good on that promise this past Wednesday evening. We were traveling home from a quick dinner out when, from the corner of my eye, I spied her familiar “gait.” She was headed into the tobacco store; we were headed in the opposite direction. I whispered to my husband regarding her presence and then asked him to turn the van around. Truth be known, we didn’t have much time. Perhaps I would see Gayle on another day when the schedule wasn’t so pressing and when I wouldn’t be so stressed regarding the “big event” of my evening. Truth be known, God didn’t much care for my excuses. A parsonage “showing” isn’t necessarily in keeping with kingdom living. Thus, we stopped in front of the store and waited for Gayle to emerge.

When she did, she immediately recognized me. We hugged, and I introduced her to my family. She was quick to show us the contents of her plastic bag—her blue, Gideon bible. She’s been carrying that one around since the first time I met her on a bench last summer. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Gayle asked us for a ride. My husband nodded his approval, and together, the five of us made our way to a “questionable” section of town. Wary of our surroundings, I prayed a silent prayer for the security of my family. Gayle directed us to a low-income duplex. My impulse was to get her out of the car as quickly as possible and to move on. Instead, I pulled the van over and asked Gayle if we could pray for her. She willingly surrendered the moment to my request, and the four of us laid our hands on Gayle, thanked the Lord for her presence in this world, and petitioned him for his watchful care over her in the days to come.

Gayle told us good-bye and made mention of the next time we would meet… that perhaps we might consider coming to be the new pastors at her church.

The car was silent for much of the drive home. There was something prophetic about the words she spoke—words so closely tied to the truth of what we’re currently living that I was rendered nearly breathless, certainly speechless. And then, as if on cue, God broke through that silence with a gentle rain that began to fall upon our windows. It was the kind of rain that is sometimes accompanied by sunshine—the kind of coupling that normally produces a rainbow. I asked the kids to be looking for it… that this was just the kind of moment when we could expect its reminder. Almost immediately, Jadon cried out, “There is it, mom. In the rear window. God’s rainbow.” Again, we pulled the van over so I could get a better look. Rainbows are fleeting. Better to take them in as they take the stage.

Tears pooled in my eyes, and my husband took my hand. No words were spoken between us, only knowing glances of the truth that was being revealed in our spirits—

We were not forgotten. Gayle was not forgotten. The “big event” of my day—the parsonage “showing”? Well, temporarily forgotten—less important as it pertained to the living out of the kingdom on the pavement of everyday, real life. The kingdom never lives more effectively and profoundly than when it walks the streets with the King in mind, with his invitation to the banquet in hand, and with our “making them come in so that his house will be full.”

Making. A word in the Greek language that means “importunate persuasion”—a troublesomely urgent persuasion that is persistent in its request (Zodhiates, “The Complete Word Study Dictionary NT,” AMG Pub., 1992, 145). Why persistent? Why urgent? Why the need to compel the invited to RSVP? Because the kingdom of God is near, closer now than it has ever been, and the Master isn’t selective regarding his guest list. The way that we flesh out our kingdom callings sometimes indicates that we think that God is selective and conditional regarding his eternal invitation. But God doesn’t put conditions on who does or doesn’t receive an invitation. He’s interested in a full table, a full house, a full forever. What he’s not interested in is our excuses regarding our refusal.

Excuses serve as the foundation for our being excused by the Master from the heavenly banqueting table. Excuses wear thin when eternity hangs in the balance. And in case you’ve grown complacent regarding eternity, both as it pertains to where you’ll be spending it and where your neighbors will be spending it, it’s time to wake up. Time to take a look inward and to realize that Jesus Christ paid a high price for your chair at the table. We don’t get to choose who sits beside us, friends. We do, however, get to choose what we will do with the invitation that God has placed into our hearts and hands and has asked us, through importunate persuasion, to deliver to others. Thus, I ask you today, even as I asked Gayle this past week, even as I have asked you countless times before in this place that you’ve come to know as my cyber address,

Do you know that you know that you know my God and his truth? Have you surrendered your heart to his, and have you accepted his calling upon your life to go and to make disciples of all his people? Is grace your portion? If so, is grace your offering to others? When did you last hand out an invitation to the banqueting table? When did you last use sacred, importunate persuasion on behalf of the kingdom?

There are some occasions that will come to us this week that will matter for all of eternity—moments that teeter on the edge between heaven and hell where you and I will be given the opportunity to push “things” forward in favor of God’s forever. Some of us will make excuses; a rare few of us will live it out as God intends for us to live it out. When those moments come, I pray for the eyes to see, the mind to conceive, and the heart to be amongst the latter group.

No excuses. Just more of Jesus for me and for the Gayles of the world who’ve yet to realize that a chair has been set in their honor at the King’s banqueting table. It’s a good day to live with the King. It’s a good life to be trusted with such a gracious grace. May you know the richness of God’s bounty this week, and may you have courage and faith enough to dispense it liberally to every single soul who crosses your path therein. As always…

peace for the journey,

PS: To read more about my journey with Gayle click on the links within the post or here:
Post One: A Worthy Pause… God’s Worthy Cause

Post Two: A Tender Ache

Copyright © April 2010 – Elaine Olsen

35 Responses to importunate persuasion

  1. Oh Elaine, I love that God gave you a rainbow too :). And that you saw Gayle again and your daughter got to meet her. Thank you for sharing how God continues to weave the various threads of your days into the beautiful tapestry of your life. Your ability to see that and share it encourages me.

    Praying with you in this season of change and transition (you're handling yours with more grace than I feel in mine!).

    Blessings friend,

  2. I love your heart for people to know Jesus and I love it how you lead by example to your family as well as to your readers. I think it is very powerful when a family serves the Lord together like this. Bless you, my sister.

  3. What a special photo of you and your kids with Gayle. A special moment for all concerned, I'm sure. I pray that my eyes will be opened to the opportunities God brings my way, too…

    A blessed week to you, Elaine!

  4. So grateful God gave you the privilege of seeing Gayle again, and that now your kids know her, too. One of the most precious, tender things I see in that photo is your precious boy with his arm around her. What hearts for others you've sown in to your children. So grateful that God gifted you not only for teaching and challenging your children about the Gayles of this world, but for teaching and challenging us, as well. May we all be found so faithful to share God's gracious banquet. I praise God continually for your life and example.

    Love & blessings,

  5. Wow! My heart ached throughout this post at all the questions asked and possibilities presented.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing us to ride along on your beautiful journey.

  6. You have a heart full of love and obedience. It's all about others. Your spirit is sweet and the Holy Spirit is using you as a magnet to draw others to Him. God bless you.

  7. Dear Elaine,
    I just love rainbows…always have.

    Somehow they are fresh and timely reminders that God is speaking something to my heart at that very moment.

    You are right, rainbows are fleeting…you have to capture the moment and listen to what God is saying.

    I loved this post.

    Will try to read more on the background stories. Haven't been around here for a while.

    Glad I visited you today.


  8. Hey, I'm back Elaine. I read your two recent posts before this one…just to find out what's up.

    Always love reading your heart, so beautifully expressed.

    Your faith is deep, and I am sure that did not happen overnight.

    Just want you to know you have a friend over here…who is praying for you…for your family…over the recent developments of your life.

    If God's cloud is moving, then surely it is time to pull up the tent pegs and fold up the canvas… and move with God where His anointing leads you.

    Dear Elaine, I can't always visit, but I promise to catch up when I can. Just so I can pray with you, and for you.


  9. As always your writing brings me into your heart, and I feel to a degree what you are feeling. You are so gifted. I love reading here, I am chanllenged, inspired and encouraged.

    I learned that word recently:

    …but toward asking of God in prayer, not evangelizing (which is actually the other side of the coin in many cases). Thanks for this expression of the urgency of the moments…

    And may the Lord bless you with strength and peace in your "goodbyes" to this chapter of your life and the people you have become family with.

    Blessings Elaine!

  10. Too lovely to make light of by adding superfluous words.

    Amelia's on to something; as is Gayle. So, too, our amazing God!


  11. Very precious moments Elaine. I praise God for them. I thank God for them. I look forward to when God brings them to me. I love reading from others who also experience them. AMEN!

  12. I love how our children can be catalysts for kingdom encounters like this one. I loved your first bench encounter with her and this conversation with your daughter is more than simply sublime. God ministered to you more this time than you to her…in driving her home and praying for her…and then the rainbow – at that point in reading your post I was in tears! That kind of encounter and God gifts have been the kinds of things I've been praying for….for you as the transition is ahead. He is so faithful to show his Sovereignty…but we have to believe He is there, working, and then we will see it. You are so tender to those things and God is patiently working with me. Love to you!

  13. What a touching post, Elaine. I read your post earlier this morning…I've been trying to swallow this lump in my throat ever since.

    Amelia and Jadon (and Nick and Colton) are so blessed to see the example led by you and Billy. It's everyday the opportunities we have to bless others that seem to imprint themselves the most into the memories and hearts of our children.

    I didn't realize I could love you all anymore than I already do, but ohhh…I was so wrong! 🙂


  14. Elaine- you continually bless me!! This weekend at church our pastor was speaking on slowing down and creating space in our lives for God and his kingdom moments. You are an amazing example of that!

    I love your sweet heart and your willingness to "pause" for another!

    Bless you!

  15. This is so touching to my heart. That invitation to taste and see and yet often we keep moving and miss out on the banquet that He has waiting. Thank you for sharing your journey, your heart, and how God divinely intervines into your life. Blessings, elizabeth

  16. Thank you Jesus that Your beautiful daughter Elaine is a girl who has chosen to live it out…and boy does she do it well…so well that there is a natural encouragement for others to do the same when they are in her presence…which just so happens to be Your presence..Amen!

  17. Oh my, God was talking wasn't He? I am so glad you recorded this moment on your blog. God is doing a new thing in many ways. I minister in a place like Gayle's. One day the women in my class told me they see rainbows all the time in the village. b

  18. Elaine, it is amazing to me how perfect God's timing is. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am continuing to pray for you.

  19. Wow, wow wow Elaine. Beautiful! And blunt and honest and bold! I LOVED this post!! God knew just what this mind needed to soak in before going to sleep. I have been lazy in my walk with Him and this weekend re-dedicated my life to Him completely not just bits and parts. I need and want Him so much!!
    Love to you…lots of it!

  20. Elaine,

    I am taking my place at His banqueting table and I have and will continue to invite as many people as I can possible can to join us in the FOREVER PARTY. Thank you for call people at the most highest of tables…and reminding us that there are seats still to be occupied. Thank you for stopping to give God that moment for the sake of another. Yes, eternity will review each man's work.

    God bless you…as you keep your hands busy and your heart committed to Him.


  21. Hi Elaine~ I enjoyed catching up on your blog and journey today! We seem to be walking parallel lives lately. 🙂

    I'll be praying for you and your family as you move to a new place and new ministry within the body of Christ.

    With love~
    Jennifer Walker

  22. Thank you for telling us about introducing your family to Gayle. What a precious memory for all of you! So wonderful how God brings people of all shapes, forms, and fashions into our lives.
    This morning before leaving for Bible study I quickly scanned the local obits online and saw that the mother of a lady I used to work with at Sav-A-Life passed away yesterday. Since we are going to revival services tonight I was pretty sure I might not get back to town this evening for visitation at the funeral home. After Bible study I needed to go to Walmart for an errand and as I headed that way in the car I just said to God…"I sure wish you would let me see Vicki out somewhere today so I could tell her how sorry I am about her mother's passing." And then I guess I forgot about it. Got the key made. Was walking to the exit when I glanced up and there is Vicki and her daughter walking in! Let me tell you….I have not seen that women in probably a year! She is not someone I run into often at all. So I immediately knew that God had let our paths cross this morning.
    He's so good.
    Love you much my friend Elaine!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  23. I can only sit here with my tears and say "amen" to all you wrote. I always take what you share to heart and try to allow God's word through your blog to fall on fertile soil.

  24. Beautiful and strong post.. Love the rainbow… that reminds us of His promises…

    love to you

  25. Tears. Oh my Elaine, this is speaking to my heart. I am moved to no more excuses after reading this post and praying that as I step forward in courage and obedience that His rainbow will shine over me.

    Beautiful, beautiful in every way! Thank you for sharing this kingdom work.

    With love and thanksgiving to the LORD for you,

  26. Elaine:

    Honestly.. I have no words, just thank you. Right to the heart, this one.

    Love you,

  27. Love the reminder:

    God is in the little things.

    He's with the least among us.

    That's where I want to be found too.

    Let's talk soon.

    Sweet dreams.

  28. Elaine, your servant's heart is written all over this post! Now, it's just amazing how God moves!

    He so carefully choreographed your day for ministry to one special lady, with one unforgettable testimony to your beautiful daughter, and ended it with a symbol of His promise of a rainbow.

    God is awesome! And, now, just think of this awesome task He has choreographed for your future!

    You are going into uncharted terriotry with your servants' hearts, your lovely family, God-filled memories and experiences, and the poweful voice of His calling voice for your ministry!

    Great post, dear friend! He abides in our hearts with love and kisses your lives with peace.

    Love you,


  29. And you tell me that I'm the one who pays attention to life? Oh, my, what a story. And your story intertwining with Gayles…how beautiful.

    He writes the best ones.

    I've missed you. In a flurry of busy-ness lately. Have tried to read you at work during lunch, but for some reason the hospital's filters filter out your blog background and the words disappear into the blue stripes of the background's background.

    It's a terrible tease staring at that screen and wondering what you've been up to.

    But I've been praying. Knowing you're heading into this new season. I'm glad God prioritized the "big event" for you. Isn't that just like Him? I know you would have done fine anyway…filled with grace, that's you.

    I'm sending love, Faith Elaine.

  30. I don't know how I can type w/ the tears in my eyes. Although I have never met Gayle she has touched my heart and I have lifted her in prayer on occassion. Seeing her face gave me a countenance to reflect on as I lift her name to our heavenly Father. Yes… God keeps His promises!
    Love you…

  31. Beautiful. Thank God for the ways He speaks to us so powerfully and personally.

    Your relationship and story about Gayle reminds me a little of the book, The Yada Yada Prayer Group.

    Praying for you during this time, my friend.

  32. A great post! A wonderful story! The rainbow? Yes, a sign from the Lord.

    We are in a time of transition, too, seeking the Lord for direction. My husband is in full-time ministry, as well.


  33. I can't add anything to what has already been said…such good words here…such a testimony…

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