Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Place Prepared

I love hospitality. It’s a wonderful gift that God has given to the Body to be used as a blessing to others. Our family has been on the receiving end of incredible hospitality countless times and in many different ways.

Last summer, Charly and I were introduced through a friend to a lovely woman in Minnesota named Pat. She offered for us to stay in her beautiful home for a week while we attended a conference in the same city. Through email before we arrived, Pat wanted to know what she could buy for us at the store. “Oh no,” I thought. “We don’t even know this woman. We don’t want to burden her even more by having her buy us food.” I quickly wrote back to let her know that she didn’t need to worry about buying food for us. We could take care of it ourselves.

After we arrived at her house, and she graciously gave us a tour, showing us all that she had prepared for us, I fell asleep in a huge, comfortable king-size bed with tears in my eyes. “God, you have prepared all this for me???”

The next morning, we climbed the stairs to find the kitchen prepared with matching dishes, fancy napkins, and a selection of delicious breakfast foods. With joy lighting up her eyes and smile, Pat shared how our being there was an answer to her prayers. When she bought her townhouse, she had prayed that God would use it as a place for people like us who lived overseas to stay while they were back in the US. Really??? All of my guilt for being a burden to her melted away.

And I realized that I needed to apologize for writing to her that we could take care of our own food. She found so much delight in serving and was so gifted in hospitality! Now I saw my email response as possibly being offensive to her instead of lifting what I thought was an unnecessary burden from her shoulders. She laughed when I explained myself, and told me “not to mess with her gift!”

I was blessed to stay with Pat again two weeks ago when I was back in Minnesota for another conference. This time, when I arrived from the airport before she got home, and read her note listing all the food she had prepared for me, I smiled. “Yes, God, I know that this is what you have prepared for me. Thank you. What a wonderful gift.” And I felt God smile with me, reminding me to not even try to feel guilty for all that had been prepared just for me.

I enjoyed reading in the peaceful sunroom with a great view of tall trees, squirrels, birds, and refreshing rain. I was renewed by the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees (after constantly hearing the honks of cars outside our windows in Lanzhou). The conference I attended that week was great, and staying at Pat’s was just what I needed…I felt very well cared for, in every way.

God reminded me again that He delights in preparing gifts for me as I witnessed Pat’s delight in preparing a place of comfort and refuge for me. I have experienced God’s joy in preparation by receiving such generous hospitality.

Our God is a generous God. And how much more we have to look forward to when Jesus said, “There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you…” (John 14:2)

with Pat last summer

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