My house is too small. They won't have a place to park. The carpets are always dirty. Sit on the floor? Are you kidding me? I can't cook. What if I run out of things to say......
Why be hospitable? Do people even need your caring words or actions?
Are people hurting today? Yes. Are they thriving or are they in survival mode? Do they have peace or are they in need of peace? Can you offer them a glass of water?
I'm not known for my hospitality. My mother is a gracious person. I don't have any excuse.....except one. Perfection. I want things to be perfect. And they aren't......ever. My desire for perfection doesn't even come from wanting to please others as much as it comes from my own pride. Ugg. The ugly cards are out on the table now.
Martha, just call me Martha.
But when I consider those I think about hosting I know that they need ME. They need the love of Christ that I can share that day. They need a loving touch or a listening ear. They need to relax and have a moment away from the demands overwhelming their lives. They need a meal.....any meal. A friend recently got excited when I invited her to come over "one day soon." I told her I wasn't sure what I'd cook. She quickly responded, "Grilled cheese would be fine! I just want to come visit!" It really isn't my food she longs for, it's His food she knows she'll get!
Another friend wants to come over. She has never been here but she likes some of the things that consume my time. She just wants to sit and be encouraged, she wants to take a deep breath and slow her pace.
As I prepared for our wonderful fellowship yesterday with my Polish friend, Maria Rybarczyk, I knew that I wanted the focus to be on her, not the food. I bought some fruits, cubed some cheese and set out crackers. We made a delicious punch and had hot coffee and tea available. The table looked bare so I thought about buying a few pretty flowers but I didn't have a lot of time to run out and get them. As I walked into my kitchen I saw some (old....I'm being honest now) "silk" flowers in a vase. (I really feel like I'm using the term "silk" loosely.) At that moment I felt God say to me, "Jan, this isn't about perfection and you have only Me to please. Wash the old flowers, put them in a vase and set them on the table. This day isn't about your idea of beauty. It is about showing them My Love. Just love."
The day was full of dark skies, strong winds, hard rain, impressive lightening and powerful thunder. The phone began ringing as two o'clock approached and I braced myself for regrets. Instead I had requests for: driving instructions, permission to bring a friend, and "Is there anything you'd like me to bring?" Everyone showed up and they were all on time! They brought smiles, umbrellas, diaper bags, excitment and anticipation. We all sat in my livingroom and compared our circle to what the early church must have been like huddled in the catacombs. What a wonderfully glorious day it was.
They sat on the sofa, diningroom table chairs (that don't match the table and were bought from an old army kitchen), the floor....even the inexpensive folding chairs I bought to use outside! There was laughter, some tears, many hugs and prayers. We sang aloud a few songs that have guided and strenghtened Maria....and we sang them a capella. Talk about missing perfection. But I'm certain the angels were singing along too.
My friends (from all walks of life and many not knowing anyone else before coming over), left refreshed. They looked more filled and complete than when they first walked in the door. They were built up and ready to "go forth."
The kitchen was not as clean as I would have liked. A few prep things I had planned to do never got done. My little projects even sat in their places unashamed, waiting on me. It was obvious. She didn't get her whole "look" finished.
But now I know. We weren't really going for "my look." We were going for His look. And since He is Perfection, what was I worried about after all?
IF He is my Boss (and He is!), then I need only concern myself with the assignments He puts before me and they are never too much or too hard.
My friends relax when I relax. And before I know it the meal is finished and they're drying dishes and putting them in my cupboards. (Never my intention or desire by the way!) But they smile and say, "Wow, we're a lot alike. I'd put my such-and-such here too if I were you." Then we're laughing and I'm understanding that they just want to be my family for the day.
They got a lot more than nourishment at my table. They got loved. They felt cherished and listened to and the ride home is an easier one because they know I care about them and they have another sister looking out for them. The harsh world is a little less harsh because they felt loved and not with a love that is superficial....but with God's love, the Perfect love.
"But when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears." 1 Corinthians 13:10
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13: 13
Be the balm that is needed, the oasis that is desired, the friend that is loving and available.
I am tossing the pride of my own need for perfection. My Boss expects obedience, not my simple plan of excellence.
The world is in too much need to wait for us to finally get over ourselves. Set aside personal agendas and Love One Another! The time is nigh.
Can I count on you?
Can He count on you?
Jan aka The New Mary