Last year, I experienced one of life’s major moments: I bought a home. As a single-again woman, I beamed with pride on closing day. For most of the five years after my divorce, I lived in a decent-sized apartment. But I didn’t let that stop me from having people over.
Now, with my very own home, I had a unique opportunity–welcoming even more people into my mission field. I didn’t know that God already had a plan in mind.
Several months after being in my home, a young friend (whom I consider the little sister I never had) needed a safe and emotionally-healthy place to live. I didn’t hesitate. I had three bedrooms in the split-plan home, and I was using only one. She graciously accepted my offer, and I’m glad she did.
Our friendship blossomed as we confided in each other, laughed, and cried together. I admit it wasn’t always easy; it’s a challenge to live by yourself for so long and then have someone in your home. But we worked around our quirkiness, and after eight months she was able to move into a place of her own. Even though I’m happily married now, I still miss her presence. We still hang out, and she visits regularly. I wanted to bless her, but she blessed me.
My home is my mission field. Of course, that doesn’t mean I invite all people to live in my home, but I want my home to be an inviting place–a safe place for all who enter. I want my guests to be welcome any time, any day, and to make themselves at home. Anytime? Any day? Yes, I truly mean that, and my friends know it.
In the past, I refused to have anyone come over if the house wasn’t in tip-top shape with everything in its proper place. Spotless. But after years of struggles–divorce and medical issues, to name a few–I now treasure the important things in life.
My house is not perfect–it’s lived-in, it’s real, it’s my home. Of course, that doesn’t give me an excuse not to clean, but it puts cleaning in perspective: Do I spend time serving, laughing, and sometimes even crying with friends, or do I spend the time preparing frantically for their visit?
The Bible says to share with God’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, working together for the kingdom of God (Romans 12:13; 3 John 1:8). Some of us have to work harder than others at hospitality, but when we do, our home is our mission field. What we do for one of the least of our brothers, in reality, we do for God (Matthew 25:40).
Daphne Tarango is a freelance writer—and happily-married newlywed–who comforts others with the comfort she herself has received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). She lives in the Southeastern U.S., where she is a leader in a Bible-based recovery program and president of a local writers’ group. Visit her blog Daphne Writes.
Editor’s Note: Daphne’s piece jogged me into adding this as I think that many Christians in our hurried era fail to answer the call to hospitality–even in their own churches. A friend told me that her Sunday School class decided to have dinner party groups to get to know each other better. Each couple who wanted to participate was grouped with two other couples for a period of three months. Then the groups would change members. The goal was to meet once a month. My friend signed up for three consecutive rounds. Each time, after receiving the names, she contacted everyone first and offered to have a dinner at her home. They decided on a date and what each couple would bring to supplement her entree. Everyone seemed to have a great time at the first dinner meeting. But…no one else volunteered for the next dinner. Everyone was “busy.” Right before the three-month period was up, one woman suggested they all meet at a restaurant (dutch treat, of course) to fulfill her commitment. (My friend knew that this woman had a lovely, spacious home which she kept immaculate, so space or cleaning was not the issue.) In the second group my friend entertained first, and the three months passed with no one else volunteering to host a meeting. In the third group, my friend entertained first again. Late in the third month one other couple invited the group to their home. When the fourth round was advertised, my fellowship-seeking but disillusionined friend didn’t sign up. Apparently most others didn’t either, so the program was abandoned. How different it might have been if each couple who had signed up had taken their commitment to hospitality and fellowship more seriously.