Thursday, October 29, 2015

Your room is ready

We were away when some friends arrived in town for her father's funeral.  There was no space for them to stay at her sister's, and the hotel where they were staying seemed cold and businesslike.  They did not just need a room to attend a funeral.  They needed a refuge in their grief.

When our daughter told us what was happening, we told her to give them a key to our house. They could have free reign of the house and a place to rest without distractions.

"We can't do that!" the wife protested.  "We can't just show up and stay at someone's house without warning.  They are not even home."

And her husband quietly responded, "But maybe they are already ready for us."

Indeed, that is a lesson I have learned over the years.  Clean sheets and towels in place.  New toothbrushes in the bathroom drawer.  A spare key already made.

God has placed many people on our path at the last minute and often with little or no notice, including a medical student checking out residencies, a variety of missionaries passing through, and once, an elderly couple we had never met.....and that's an amusing story to be shared at a different time :)

Sometimes we were home, quite often we were not.  But we were ready.

And what about on ordinary days?  Am I ready for those people God puts on my path today?  Not just for a place to stay or another chair for supper, but a listening ear, a kind word, or even noticing and acknowledging those who are seemingly invisible around me.

It has been said that we make time for those things most important to us.  And many times in our culture, there doesn't even seem time for those things.  For awhile, a viral video on the Internet summed it up, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

But as a Christian, I am called to do things differently.  I am called to see things differently.  I am called to respond to people differently. Because as a believer, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2. 20).  There is a huge freedom in that.

How differently would we view these incidents or opportunities if we saw them in terms of the Gospel?

I don't have to carve out huge pockets of time, but just be aware, willing and ready, to pull out a snack for someone, pull up another chair to the table, and put out the welcome mat in every form and dimension. Kind words out of my pocket, a toothbrush in the drawer.  It's all the same.

And so, when Paul admonished Philemon to "prepare a guest room for me," (Philemon 1. 22), he knew that it was not a matter of square footage but a heart condition.  Not space for a guest, but a willingness for God to work through me.  It is no different than if the LORD had said, "prepare a guest room for Me."

The world calls it margin.  The Bible calls it grace.

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