Hospitality is not my gift. Ok, so I should say that it’s not my natural tendency—aka. gift. Since this is the case, I have in the past – ok when I say ‘in the past’ maybe I am in fact referring to yesterday and all the days before it—used this as an excuse to not open my home to dinner guests. Don’t get me wrong, I love people and I actually enjoy cooking really yummy food, but order and organization of the papers and the piles always seems to get the better of me.
I’ll be honest. I don’t know how you pinterest home people do it! You have these homes that are clean whenever I come over—and you have small children. Are you secretly running a toddler clean-up boot camp in your house?! No, that can’t be it. I’ve tried that with absolutely no success with the first two children and am thinking I’ll just skip that kind of fruitless energy expended on the third.
Just when I had comfortably resigned myself to the fact that our home would simply be a place of refuge and solitude for my family, along comes 21 days of prayer and fasting in January, the If: Gathering in February, and Lent in March. If you’ve walked with Jesus for any length of time (and by length of time, I mean for a day or more) you know that He doesn’t ever seem concerned with our comfort. In fact, when He asks me to pick up my cross and follow Him I’ve come to understand that this does not involve a bag of chips or a couch; which is unfortunate because my tendency is to really like both the chips and the couch.
At the beginning of the New Year, during the 21 days of prayer and fasting my church family and I embraced, I heard God whispering to me, “Open your door.” And while it may not make any sense to you, I knew instinctively exactly what He was asking both Reid and I. He was asking us if He could have our house. It was as if He was reminding both Reid and I that we had asked him 7 years ago to use this home for His glory. In the past 7 years, while we have (in part) used our home for His glory to the best of our ability, He was now—in 2014—asking for more. Both of us sensed it.
And then after attending the If: Gathering in
Austin this past February, I knew that it was time.
Has there ever been an area in your life where you have felt God calling you and yet you excused stepping into it or stepping out because “it’s not how you’re wired?” You see, this area of hospitality is exactly that. I have always used the excuse that "it's just not my thing/gift" or whatever other spiritual excuse/spin I could put on it to avoid having to labor in refining this area of my life. Recently, though I've been wrestling with this question of What if the area He’s calling me to step into is not just for me, but for so many others? And isn't that usually the case with the Holy Spirit and the calling He places on our lives?!
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenton season. Admittedly, I have never before celebrated nor really understood what Lent was. In my ignorance I always thought it was a Catholic thing, and since I wasn’t Catholic I assumed it didn’t apply to me. How convenient, right?! This year is different though. The idea of Lent has continued to come across my social media feeds and across my heart and mind. FYI: Singer, Kim Hill, posted a Lenton Devotional the other day that is fantastic! I printed it off and we began reading through it together as a family today. This particular line resonated with my soul this morning as we read aloud,
“Ash Wednesday, and the pilgrimage of Lent, shake us awake from our delusions and pretensions, force us to plumb our own depths, and alert us to our need for the rescue God accomplishes for us in Christ.”
How is it I have never known to celebrate, engage with, wrap my soul around this rich season of our faith? And yet it is interesting that today is Ash Wednesday. It’s the beginning of Lent where we begin to follow Christ to the cross and carrying with us our own cross—dying to ourselves and our own wants and desires. It’s interesting because it’s also the very same day that I have set to host my first If: Table. Trust me, you’ll want to click the link to see what this is all about. In short, it’s inviting 6 women for 2 hours into my home for a simple meal and intentional conversation. It’s not the 6 women, or the 2 hours, or the intentional conversation that I shy away from, it’s the “in my home” part that I find challenging with a young busy family.
However, this season of Lent I've decided that I am abstaining from the comfort zone. There I said it. By comfort zone I mean those things that I have excused as “not being my gift” so I let other people carry the load in those areas. I believe that there are areas He hasn’t necessarily gifted us, but that He has, in fact, called us to step into. And as such, busy family (including a living tornado disguised as the cutest 18 month old boy) and all I am hosting my very first If:Table tonight.
Tonight, as I prepare to open my door and to sit at my table with my sisters, my preparation is a labor of love for my King. It is not something easy for me to organize, clean, set up, cook, etc. as it is for some of you with the gift of hospitality. Still, our Father asks us to offer our bodies—not as dead slain sacrifices-- but as living breathing sacrifices day after day after day and this is our act of worship to Him. (Romans 12:1)
You see, tonight He is going to stir in us through our conversation. Tonight His presence is going to fill my dining room in our worship of simply eating what He has provided and enjoying a unique bond in Him that He has given. Tonight, women from different life-stages and stories will come around one table and share life together. And we’ll do this around the very same table I grew up eating at. The table where we will sit has hosted many meals from when I was 10 until now. It’s the table where my step-dad became my dad and my step-brothers grew to become, simply, my brothers. It has witnessed prayer after prayer for blessing upon the food and upon those who dined with us.
Tonight a journey into hospitality begins at my If: Table. My hope is that what happens at this table will multiply—that a few of those who dine together tonight will catch a vision to host 6 women, for 2 hours, a simple meal, and intentional conversation as well. My dream is that Christ, through us and our time together, will transform the women in this community through relationship with Him and through relationship with one another. It’s beginning with 6, but I’m believing that by engaging in this area of discomfort (for me) that God will take this living breathing sacrifice and multiply it for His glory. My dream is that there are 10 women hosting 10 tables of 6 women each month for a gathering such as this—and then 20 women hosting. The goal is not that we would host the same women each time, but that every 2-3 months we would host an entirely different 6 women at our tables and so that every 3 months, we are reaching more and more and more women and building deeper intentional sisterhood with each other around Jesus Christ.
So off I go to assemble my meal, while the tornado of a child (that I love so dearly) is napping! But before I do, let me ask you:
What has He been stirring in your soul that He wants you to offer Him as a living sacrifice day after day after day? What non-gift do you know He’s cultivating into a gift/ability for you? Comment please and encourage one another (and me) that we may know we are not alone in this!