In my life before kids, I was a runner, not a partier, so this verse from Hebrews paints an even more vivid picture of what God's invitation means to me:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
I opened the invitation to the race a long time ago; I came to the starting blocks, but then I forgot to run. Sometimes, I even got off the starting blocks and then back on again and ran, but not with gusto or I got distracted and didn't keep my eyes fixed on my destination and I ran off the track.
Luckily, my coach doesn't give up on me. He brought me back to the track and pointed me in the right direction. He encourages me to continue running even when I am tired and hurting. And he promised me that the celebration at the end will be a homecoming party that I can only begin to imagine and he'll be the first to welcome me at the finish line.
Come to think of it, there are really two parties that we've been invited to. The first one is here on earth, where we get to know our host. The only way to develop that relationship is through our conversation with him - through reading the scriptures, we know him and through prayer, we know him. Without those two things - we've missed the party taking place everyday, all around us.
The second party is our victory party and the more time you spend at the first party, the more you will anticipate the incomprehensible grandness of the final, everlasting party. And the more you will want your family and friends to be there too.
I'm so glad I serve a loving and patient God, who persistently handed me the invitation and who nudged me off the starting blocks and who still encourages me to keep on running towards those outstretched arms at the finish line.