This morning’s story of hospitality is written by my Mom, without a doubt the most hospitable woman I know. She and my Dad have never really known a stranger. Wherever they go, they make friends and they welcome these friends into their lives. I can remember groaning as I sat in the car after church on Sunday’s, because my parents were always the last to leave, always engaged in conversation with others. They have lived hospitality always before their family. Today, my Mom shares how she was shaped in her definition of hospitality, by the welcoming lives of others.
I was not converted through a ministry of hospitality. I became a Christian pretty much ex-nihilo, very suddenly, in January,1972. But hospitality played a key role in my growing sanctification.
At twenty, I was a new person. But what were the requirements of this new life? What did God expect of me? I didn’t know.
So I read the Bible and just hung around in the homes of older Christians! The lessons I learned were vivid and immediate. I remember the first time I went for Sunday dinner (“What is Sunday dinner?”) at a friend’s home. Mr. Richardson sat at the head of the table. Mrs. Richardson sat at the foot, with children to each side. And they spoke throughout the meal – of the sermon, of Christian life generally. Aha, I thought, Christian family life has a recognizable authority structure. And communication is essential to its well-being. That first meal with a Christian family taught me two principles I have held to unswervingly through forty-two years of marriage. And they have brought great blessing.
This same family allowed me to stay with them whenever I was fearful of life – and I was often fearful in those days. As their house was small I would climb right into their daughter’s double bed and she would pray with me until I could sleep.
What can you say about love like that?
This wonderful family helped anchor me in Christ during those first crucial months when so many newly professing Christians are ‘picked off’ by the enemies of the church – the world, the flesh and the devil. I have an eternal debt to them.
The next family that influenced me deeply were the Macaulays at English L’Abri. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay was the daughter of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. She certainly exhibited the best of her mother’s deep commitment to hospitality. There were many of us filling their English manor house, to the brim, at any given time!
One day, I was in the midst of breaking a L’Abri rule. No clothing was to be hung in the warming closet. And I was doing just that – hanging my son’s diapers to dry – when Susan caught me in the act. Needless to say, I was mortified. But she just laughed, took me to the outside clothes line, and helped me hang them where they should have been in the first place. I had only been a Christian a couple of years. I was just feeling my way into what ‘grace’ really meant. And this was a living illustration of it. Undeserved favor! All of a sudden, I ‘got it’ at a much deeper level. It was truly a profound moment for me!
These were everyday incidents that God used to transform and deepen my understanding of life. Moments only possible because others let me into their homes.
John and I have tried to open our home through the years of our marriage. And God has, in turn, used the ordinariness of our own Christian lives to transform others. What a beautiful, beautiful trans-generational blessing hospitality is!
Where a generation ago there were two of us committed to serving the Lord, there are now probably forty from within and without our family. How I love God’s ways!
Did you catch the end of my Mom’s story? Two people (she and my Dad) have now become 40 who love and serve the Lord!
Who can you invite into your home and your life?
Who might you be able to impact with the Gospel, simply by sharing your space?