About a year ago my husband preached one of my favorite sermons on hospitality. He went through the numerous verses that focus on hospitality and shared how it is not a gift but a command to all Christians. I was becoming very frustrated when people told me hospitality was my gift. I thought, really, I thought it was what I was supposed to do. It really has nothing to do with my giftedness only my willingness.
As each Christian embraces hospitality, all types of gifts are used to encourage others. So when someone comes to my home what they would experience is totally different from if they came into yours. But it is work, sometimes inconvenient, and sometimes sad sometimes joyful. In my experience, always a blessing and a worthy endeavour. As I sit here, I cannot think of a time I regret opening my home. Maybe a grumble or two about not getting my Sunday nap. But that's just selfishness....
Hospitality is something near to the heart of our family. I have seen lives changed and ideas challenged around a dinner table more than anywhere else. I love time spent with new people. old friends, encouraged and discouraged alike. New Christians and Old Christians, believers and unbelievers, those in the midst of suffering and those starry eyed with new love. With every meal, our family is made rich.
On a winter day last year, we invited a couple from our church that had just lost their young son in a motorcycle accident. Our children had come to the funeral with us and helped clean their home when they were bringing their son home for burial. We told them who was coming to lunch and said they should expect that all the adults at the table to be crying....including mom and dad. When the lunch came, it didn't take long and we were all crying. My friend looked up at the girls and said, "I'm sorry." Ella said, "we talked to mom and dad, and I would be very sad too, mom said it's good to be sad." I felt very grateful for the compassionate heart the Lord gave to Ella. My friends realized this was a place to be sad without embarrassment. We went on to have a lot of tears, and the girls soon excused themselves to play. Later that evening they prayed for the hurting hearts of our friends.
We have been witness to many hurts and lots of honesty. I want our house to be a place of safety for our guests, family, and close friends. Hospitality for me has nothing to do with a clean house, perfectly appointed dinner, and quiet children. For us, it's a place to bring a heavy heart without fear of judgement. It is the privilege of Jason and I to hear the many stories that come through our door. Sin rarely takes us by surprise, and being among the broken is a source of great joy. We have had moments where we struggled with holding onto the hurts of others too closely, but we are confident in the power of God to heal the hearts. We are diligent at giving the burdens over to the Lord to carry. But this is a place we must constantly grow in as a family.
Tonight we are opening our home again after a long break from my early pregnancy sickness. I'm so looking forward to not be focused on myself. The menu is simple, but the time precious. It is a couple I have loved for a long time, but not had time specifically alone with as long as we've been here. I can hardly wait. It's always exciting to see what the Lord has planned for our family.