When it comes to being a hostess, I’m a klutz. Some people can make old, mismatched, chipped dishes seem exotic and beautiful. I can make the most beautiful matching set seem like it was thrown together at the last minute with no thought or consideration. With limited decorating ability, my house is set up for practicality, not beauty. I know how to be functional, not attractive. Even when I decorate for Christmas, which is just about the only decorating I love to do, my décor is a reflection of personality, not decorative intentionality.
And yes, I know that hospitality is not all about how I can set a table or decorate my home. But, I honestly don’t know how to welcome people into my home unless it is people I know well or feel comfortable with. It’s just one more of those “natural pastor’s wife” aspects I lack.
I could launch right now into the “God uses me anyway” speech, because it’s true. He has me here and I hope and pray that I am useful to Him. I’ve tried to do less kicking, screaming, and demanding my way and more surrendering to His instructions. I still have a long way to go, but I am thankful that He can use me in spite of myself.
But, that’s not the direction my mind is going right now.
This morning, my hospitality failures seemed to compound. I looked around my living room/dining room/kitchen area and was reminded of my failings as a housekeeper. I contemplated the things I’d hoped to accomplish today and held them up against a change of plans, and I was reminded of the selfishness that makes it hard for me to open my home. I thought about dinner and realized that I have no idea how to cook for company. All in all, I felt ashamed of my home and my abilities.
At first I just got edgy and snappy about it all. Then, finally, in a moment alone, I prayed. As soon as I surrendered, a verse overwhelmed my mind.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
What, Lord? That’s not about hospitality! Why is that verse coming to my mind?
Immediately, the words “abide” and “dwell” stood out to me. Then other verses that discuss abiding began to fill my mind.
You see, I physically live in this house, but it is not my dwelling place. It is not where I am to truly abide. When I put all of my emphasis on this brick structure that gives me shelter, I forget where my true dwelling place lies.
I abide in God, not in a house of brick!
Strangely enough, my morning reading from Romans began to click a little more firmly as well.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12: 9-13
Some of my dear friends live lives of hospitality by preparing their house in such a way as to invite others in naturally. But the beauty of their hospitality lies in the fact that they abide in God, not in the fact that they can present perfect décor and serve with ease. Don’t get me wrong, those skills do make it easier! But, they are not the reason people flock to their door. No, people flock to them because my friends abide in God.
I do too. I might have to work a little harder at the practical application of this hospitality thing, but it’s not about where I live. It’s not about this brick shelter and what I can do with it. It’s not about a fancy spread or how well I can feed someone. It’s about inviting fellow believers into the place where my family dwells in the shelter of the Most High. I can do that!
May we be less concerned today with living in houses of brick and more concerned with abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. And may that be reflected in our hospitality.