Hospitality....it's something that we really don't think much about anymore. I mean, what really is hospitality? I have my family over to my home and I really enjoy having them over. I prepare the house, make a special dinner, make sure the kids' rooms are clean, bathrooms freshly cleaned, floors cleaned and things like that.... but that really has nothing to do with hospitality.
I do a "virtual" bible study with a friend of mine. We read the same verses, and then share via e-mail our thoughts on the verses that we have read. Today was 3 John - all of it. It's not that long...
So, as I was reading today, one of the things I got out of the reading was "hospitality".... it's something we all need to be aware of. Hospitality isn't planned. It's not the Thanksgiving dinner that you host at your home - although that is a form of hospitality, it's more "hosting"... hospitality is different.... it's spontaneous and unexpected. It's opening the doors to your home when your floors are not polished, your bathrooms are not perfectly cleaned, the toys are not picked up and the kids' beds aren't made. There may be dishes in the sink and the garbage maybe needs to be taken out..... but you open your door anyway. You don't have a dinner bought and made, ready to serve your guests... instead you look in the fridge, see what you can offer them to drink, if anything. Then you pull things together out of the cupboards / freezer and offer something that resembles a dinner. You don't use your fancy china, because it's not dusted off. You don't have the nice silverware or serving dishes because those are stored away... instead you offer the everyday existence of your home.
The thing about hospitality is it's WELCOMING these impromptu visits and making the person feel like they are genuinely welcome in your home at ANY time - planned or unplanned - and that they are not an inconvenience. It's not about stressing over their presence, worry about not putting on a good show... hospitality is not about a "show". Hospitality is about a warm welcome. It's about making someone feel like they are not an inconvenience. It's about opening the door without having a formal invitation. It's more about the other person than it is about you and your home.
So what if the floors are not at their best? So there are a few crumbs on the table or the floor, and there's a basket of laundry on the couch.... Hospitality is the relationship that is established between you and the person who stopped by unexpectedly. Hospitality is BEING READY for the unexpected, by not fretting over when the unexpected shows up at your door step! Hospitality CAN mean a planned event, but without welcoming the spontaneous, impromptu visitor, the planned event is just that - a planned event.
I'm not a spontaneous person... but I've somehow surrounded myself with friends who are VERY spontaneous. Maybe it's a God-thing... in fact, I'm SURE it's a God thing... God challenging me to live outside of my comfort zone, to welcome the unplanned, let go of my habitual planning, throw caution to the wind, and just ENJOY my friends. God doesn't care if I'm "always prepared"... He wants me to be prepared for what He needs me to do.... and what He needs me to do, may just be to move the laundry basket to the bedroom, push the toys onto the floor, and offer my impromptu visitor a place on the couch for a chat and a warm welcome.
So, if you read 3 John and DON'T get that out of the verses... that's fine. God has something special to tell all of us. Today, that is what He had to tell me... maybe because it's something I've been struggling with. I've read it many times and get different things out of it every time. I've always felt that I was an hospitable person.... I learned today that it was always more about me though... did I present myself, my house and my family well, did I offer the right food and drink, was it good enough? Today I learned that the real hospitable person, moves the junk and makes people feel welcome, even if it's not the most convenient time. I'm going to make a real effort to sharpen my "hospitality skills".
My friends don't care about my house, my appearance, what I have or what I can offer - my friends care about me. God cares about the relationship I establish with my friends and family and that I offer them what He has blessed me with.
Loved my bible study today!