Friday, October 19, 2012

Me???? Hospitality???? Now????

I know I have touched on this subject before, but it has been some time and I have heard many comments recently in regards to this topic of hospitality. So, here goes…..I am NO expert in this area at all, but it is a ministry in which I love and look forward to the opportunities that God does give us to serve Him in this way!

Some of the greatest memories I have as a child are of Sunday night fellowships, Friday game nights, and Saturday bonfires! They were spontaneous and planned, but I remember only a few Sunday nights after church when we did not have people in our home! I have many wonderful memories of running through the neighborhood, having water fights (with our pastor), shooting bats with rocks, stuffing our faces with great food, and so much more! Seems like a silly thing, huh? Well, not really! It is something the Lord desires for His children! I am so thankful for godly parents who recognized the importance of branching out from their comfort zone and opening our home to anyone and everyone and ministering to those in need! I often watched my parents counsel other adults, challenge teenagers, and lovingly teach other children! More than once did I watch my parents lead others to Christ. I can honestly say that I saw/see Jesus in and through their lives and living testimonies of God’s love and grace and I watched as they opened their doors to hundreds. Shortly after I began high school an opportunity arose for people in the church to open their homes for college students! I remember when my parents began signing up for those days thinking, “Yippee!” Did it mean preparation, cleaning, and work? Yes, but the fellowship and blessing those students were to us through the years far outweighed the “work.”

Many of you know Dwight Smith! I clearly remember when he came to our church when I was a little girl! I think I was 8. My parents quickly signed up for him to come for Sunday lunch and we excitedly prepared. It was a fun afternoon of fellowship. In a conversation around the dinner table Dwight Smith mentioned that he was really desiring to learn to play the accordion. My dad jumped up with excitement! A neighbor lady had just given our family an accordion and we had no idea what we were supposed to do with it! My parents willingly handed Evan. Dwight Smith his first accordion. Again, the point is not to brag but to give an example that if my parents had not willingly invited a man of God into their home that Sunday afternoon they would have missed out on the blessing of giving him a tool in which God would greatly use in the years to come! Just in the last few years Evangelist Dwight Smith tracked my parents down and gave them his first cd! I love how God works and how He can use even the small people like us in mighty ways!

What am I trying to get to with this? Well, I am continually amazed at listening to fellow believers say they feel unattached in their local church, they feel secluded, alone, not being encouraged outside the church walls! What a shame is initially what I think! Then, I am reminded of some things my momma taught me early on. I remember her telling me that it is important to step out in faith and watch the Lord open opportunities for us to serve. With a large family as ours (9 kids) we were rarely ever asked over to someone else’s home! I guess that many people was too big of a burden on people! I remember hating that aspect, but I loved how my mom and dad always fixed it by turning the tables and just having others over to our home. It was still hard though as a child wondering why noone would have us over. I remember thinking to myself that I never wanted to treat big families like that! I love to look at it knowing that God has given us an avenue in which to serve, and often we fail to go down that avenue because we are looking for someone to serve and bless us! Why not look at it from a different angle? Look at those frustrating times of life to reach out and encourage someone else! I promise you will receive the greater blessing because it is more rewarding to give than to receive! Some of the first times I met my husband were around the dining room table of after church fellowships. I remember my parents opened our home to him on a Christmas Eve. Everyone thought they were crazy especially that time of year, but my parents looked at it as an opportunity to open their home that GOD had given them to a single guy that couldn’t go home for Christmas! And, yes, that was before we started dating!

Several years ago we recognized the importance of opening up our home and stepping out in faith. This is no praise to us and I do not want anyone to feel I am bragging or want a pat on the back. I Do NOT, nor do I deserve one!  My husband and I desire to have people in our home at least once a week. Now, there are weeks when that is impossible, but might I add, when we miss one, we MISS it! Our children ask on the way home from every service, “Who’s coming over?” It doesn’t bother me a bit! I want them to love hospitality and serving Jesus in this way from early on! Sundays are a very busy day for us! We have on average 9 college students who eat, sleep, laugh, act crazy, and “study” on our couches every Sunday afternoon. Then, after church Sunday night we have several young couples over rotating who makes food and such! We love it and look forward to it each week! I believe the preparations and work that goes into any of it is NOTHING in comparison to the blessing we receive from so many godly friends each week!

So, what does this have to do with you? My sweet friends, put on a pot of coffee, bake up some cookies, pull out the board games and invite a family over! Stop complaining about how you feel left out or disconnected and use the opportunity to reach out! You will receive the greater blessing. Don’t worry about your half remodeled home, unpainted doors (mine have been half painted for 3 weeks now-lol), un-organized garage, filthy bathroom, unfinished projects and more. If you wait for your home to be PERFECT until you fill it with blessings in terms of guests, you are missing out on God’s bountiful blessings! I know life is crazy busy, but even once a month would be an amazing goal! There are many out there who just crave godly fellowship and if none of us are willing to sweep the dirt under the rug and open our door at a moment’s notice; hmm, it’s a sad predicament we are in!

I am praying that this post will encourage you to keep your home open as you are to others, or may it light a little fire under you to do it more often! I promise, you will not regret it for a moment! And, if you have little ones, they too can learn to love it if they see that we view hospitality as an opportunity to serve Jesus and it is not a chore! I am totally “preaching” to myself too, because often my flesh wants the better of me and I’d rather stay in my pjs all day and loaf on the couch doing nothing but something for myself! Just keeping it real, because I am REALLY human and REALLY Sinful and Selfish!

Have you ever been encouraged by someone who opened their home to you?