My husband is the Chaplain of our football team at The University of West Georgia and we often have football players over for dinner. Usually when I think about having people over for dinner I imagine our big farmhouse table with a perfect place setting, and a center piece that would make Joanna Gaines proud. But that’s not what football players want or need. They don't care if the food is served on porcelain plates and gold chargers. They want a warm, welcoming place, and a whole lot of carbs. How do we feed a bunch of hungry football players you ask? I’ll let you in on a little secret, we often cater. The reality is that I don’t love to cook. I can cook a decent meal and usually cook for our family 6 out of 7 nights of the week, but I just don’t love it. I think it’s partly because I put so much time and effort into a meal and then it’s gone in 30 minutes. However hospitality in this season of our lives usually includes some sort of food, so I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that if I am going to be obedient to God’s call for me to be hospitable to other people, I’m going to have to occasionally cook.
But hospitality is more then just cooking a meal. I have to think beyond my desires and dreams of what I think hospitality looks like and I have to think of the specific needs of the people or person I am showing hospitality to. Hospitality is sacrificially giving of yourself to another and it can be shown in many different ways. Throughout scripture we see how the Lord demonstrates hospitality through His words and actions by helping, healing, listening, and preaching to the crowds. When I look at Jesus’ life, I don’t see him dining at fine tables with beautiful place mats, I see him living amongst the poor, and washing his disciples feet.
Our pastor recently preached a sermon on caring for the orphans and widows and he said something that really stuck out to me. He said that if hospitality doesn’t get us out of our comfort zone and if it doesn't feel like a burden, then we’re probably doing it wrong. That was convicting. So often I retreat to my home as a place of comfort, and peace. Honestly, the biggest compliment someone can give me about my home is when they tell me that it feels serene, relaxing, or something out of a Southern Living magazine. Unfortunately I more often then not want to keep that serenity to myself and my family. I don’t extend a helping hand or a welcome to someone because it’s too uncomfortable, too exhausting, or too emotionally draining. Being a family in ministry, it can often feel like we’re constantly showing some form of hospitality to someone, but I still find myself fighting the selfish desire to hide away in my comfortable home.
As Christians, hospitality isn’t an option or just for people with the “gift” of hospitality. Jesus commands us to show hospitality to the poor, strangers, and people in need. I am very much in the process of examining my life and looking for places where the Lord can grow me in this area. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Lords uses our family to bring more glory to God through practicing sacrificial hospitality.