Maybe you are wondering if hospitality is always something you invite people into. Is it indelibly rooted in place and time? Do you have to cook for it to be hospitality? What if you share a house with roommates who aren’t interested in hosting people? Or what if your home right now is a dorm or a hotel or a hostel where you physically don’t have the space or to host people?
Well here’s the good news and the bad news: You CAN take it with you.
Here’s the good news: Hospitality is something the world needs. Everyone around you is looking in some way or other, for a place to be safe, to be seen and be known and loved for who they truly are.
Last Thursday I was on a flight, my first flight by myself since my children were born. And I got to talking with the older woman in the seat next to mine. We talked about this and that; small things. She told me about her fiancee.
But when I asked her about the date for the wedding, things changed.
Her voice softened, her chin dipped. She told me that her fiancee has terminal cancer, and so they haven’t been sure if they would actually get married or not. She knew as soon as she started dating him that he didn’t know how much time he had left; and he still doesn’t know.
She held back tears as she told me how hard it was for her every time he walked away. She always wondered if she would ever see him again.
And for all the things I had to leave behind in order to get on a plane bound for the east coast, hospitality was not one of them. I touched her arm, I looked her in the eye, and I told her how incredibly brave she was.
She recovered her composure, and went each went back to reading our books. But the still small voice was pushing me, and I kept praying that I’d get more time to talk with her if it was His will.
At the end of our flight, she told me about her long layover on her way back to her hometown, and I invited her to have lunch with me in the airport before I went to pick up my rental car. It was only noon, and I didn’t have to be anywhere until 6.
She agreed and we found a little Caribbean cafe near our arrival gate. We sat and she had a glass of wine, and I ordered a beer and we both ordered a late lunch. And we talked and we talked for hours, and she told me all her stories and she mentioned that she was in her 70’s and that JFK was the first president she ever voted for, and I couldn’t believe it; how much life she had lived already and still with such a thirst for more.
And she told me about her horses, and her business and the two husband’s she’d had before that had passed away. And near the end of our conversation she started talking about her “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
And joy of all joys it turns out that I was having lunch with a sister in Christ, and she called me an angel and we parted ways saying the words that my Gamamma and I shared together in our last conversation before she passed away; “If I don’t see you again here, I’ll see you there.”
And for those hours, those moments; God allowed me to hold this dear woman’s story in my heart, and to respond to her in a way that wasn’t as if we were strangers who had just met on a plane, but to live out the truth that we are both image bearing souls, who do not ultimately belong to this world with it’s heartaches. As a woman who also loves someone battling cancer, and as a follower of Jesus Christ, I was able to open up my heart to this woman I had just met, and may never see again.
And I know this story is long and rambling, but I hope you are starting to see it: Hospitality isn’t just where we invite people into our homes, its where we invite people into our hearts. And your heart you bring with you everywhere. How do we make people feel included and blessed? How do we show people that their stories matter? That we see them, and that we know they have heart and blood in their chests just as we do. How can we “consider others more significant than ourselves”(Philippians 2:3) as we present ourselves to the world?
The possibilities are endless, and they don’t have to be long or complicated. It could be as simple as listening, really listening to the person behind you in line at the supermarket. Or as simple as inviting someone to have lunch with you. Or just showing up, and being present in the present moment of your actual life. Staying awake to whatever it might be that God has for you in any given minute, hour or day, with the real flesh and blood people with eternal souls that are surrounding you each and every day.
But I’ve written this whole thing, and now perhaps you are wondering about the bad news. It’s the same. You CAN take it with you, which means you probably should.
There are times to withdraw, but we must be sensitive also to the spirit within us, and move towards our lives in acknowledgement of the profound reality that they don’t actually belong to us. If you have been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and have found freedom in the gospel of grace, then you can’t act like your life is yours to do with whatever you please. As much as that might bring us comfort, God loves us enough to not always let us have our own way. He has so much better for us.
I couldn’t have planned meeting this new friend, and in fact, she herself was supposed to have been on a flight the day previous, but it had been cancelled, and then she wasn’t even actually supposed to be in that seat, but had switched last minute with the man behind her. You could say it was all a crazy coincidence.
You could say that. But if we acknowledge God’s supremacy and absolute sovereignty in all of these details, then we know that we are where we are, at each moment in time, only by his absolute will.
Sometimes its to get some writing done while you are watching people pass by at lighting speed in concourse B of a North Carolina airport; and sometimes, its to be an angel of encouragement for someone who really needs it.
God’s plans are so, so much better than mine. Why wouldn’t I want to be apart of what he’s doing?
It’s the supernatural; right in front of us every single day. You never know what might be a divine appointment. Maybe you have just-the-right-words of encouragement that someone needs today. Maybe you are the answer to somebody’s desperate prayer. Maybe you will be the reason that someone will remember how much God loves them today.
Show up in your life, out in the world and at home; in this way we can extend hospitality to a world that has forgotten what it feels like to be seen and loved.
Blessings on you Dear Reader, and tell me any cool stories you have of God showing up when you have shown up and offered your whole heart for those in your life. I’d love to hear from you.
Need help practicing being present in your actual life? One of my favorite authors Emily P. Freeman released a podcast last week called “Practice Presence“ which was really encouraging for me. You can listen to it here: http://emilypfreeman.com/podcast/the-next-right-thing/12/
She releases a podcast every Tuesday called The Next Right thing, and it never fails to bring me to tears and remind me of what is true. It helps me slow down and be myself in a moment with God. Do yourself a favor and take a listen.