In Nancy Moser’s The Invitation, four ordinary people in different areas of the country receive a mysterious, hand-delivered invitation to come to Haven, Nebraska, on August 1. The invitations didn’t list a host or organization name or any other information except a Bible verse about faith as a mustard seed and a drawing of a mustard plant.
One of the invitees was an ex-governor. The others were a TV news producer, and wife and mother in an unhappy marriage, and a single young aspiring writer. Some are curious, but most are dismissive of the invitation at first. There’s not enough information and it all seems too weird.
But one by one, events occur that convince them to go. And even though some arrive without an invitation—a homeless stowaway, a disgruntled husband, and a thief—they are all expected and planned for.
Some are confronted with issues in their lives—some more than others. Some are nudged to use their gifts and talents in new ways. The faith of all is tested. Lives are changed.
I can’t say much more than that without giving away too much of the story. It doesn’t take long to figure out who the ultimate host is and who the mentors in Haven are. Because the visitors to Haven are confronted to varying degrees,at times the mentors come across as more didactic than we usually see in fiction. But it works because of the nature of the story.
I don’t know if I have ever read a story quite like this. Nancy Moser says in her afterword that she’s never written a story quite like this. But this story was on her heart.
It would be nice in some ways if there was such a place to go (or send people . . . ) where someone could put their finger exactly on what was wrong in your life, tell you what to do about it, and tell you what your next step should be. It doesn’t usually work like that, though. God uses His Word and prayer and the ministry of the church to guide us in less direct ways. But, still, the premise makes for an interesting imaginative tale.
And I love Nancy’s main two takeaways: that God has invited each of us to participate in His work, and He uses people with faith as small as a mustard seed.