One bitterly cold Friday night, I reached my limit. It was an especially busy week, my husband worked 70+ hours, and I just witnessed a car accident. Dramatically slinking my way onto the couch, I took a deep breath and thought, I am so glad the only plan for tonight is to snuggle on the couch with my hubby. And then the phone rang.
In a panic, my seven-months-pregnant sister exclaimed, “Min! Our landlord painted our apartment early without telling us and the paint fumes are unbearable! There is no way I can stay here . . . Can we come stay with you?”
I love my sister dearly, and we have a wonderful relationship. I lived with her before I got married and her now-husband lived with us before they got married. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem, but in that weary moment, all I could think was, Really, Lord? The house was a mess, we had nothing to offer for dinner, I was exhausted, and I didn’t want company.
The thing about hospitality is that it doesn’t always come in the form of a pre-planned party. In fact, a lot of times it looks like unexpected guests. Maybe it’s in the form of a friend who’s struggling over a recent loss and is desperate for a pick-me-up right when you’re heading to the gym. Or maybe it’s a coffee date you allotted an hour for but is pushing three because your friend hasn’t been out of the house in months. Or maybe it’s quite literally like us — with a sister and brother-in-law knocking on the door asking to stay for an undefined amount of time.
It’s easy to be hospitable when we’re prepared for it, but Jesus doesn’t command us to love one another when it’s suitable for us; He says to love one another. Period.
After a quick phone call to my gracious husband, I called my sister back and said, “Yes, of course, you can stay here. Come over whenever you’re ready and stay as long as you need.” I hung up the phone, let out a deep, slow exhale and asked the Lord to give me the energy I needed to welcome my sister and brother-in-law with open arms.
Instead of frantically cleaning the house or racing off to the grocery store for fixings for a hearty meal, I got out my red, blue, and green sharpies and decorated a plain white piece of paper with the words Matt, Steph and baby K’s room.
I didn’t know how long they would be staying or how all the logistics would fall into place. But when my sister arrived with tears in her eyes and an overwhelming appreciation for our open home, I knew that was exactly what the Lord was calling us to do that day.
The type of hospitality where there’s time to prep and plan every tiny detail comes easily to me. Sometimes hospitality looks like a beautifully planned dinner party, but I’m discovering that it can simply look like a sweet little sign on the guest bedroom door welcoming unexpected guests.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)