I was born in Arizona. When I was 3 and 1/2 years old, my parents moved back to Illinois. Most people would say I’m a northern girl, but that’s not necessarily true because I’ve lived in the South for over 30 years now.
There are noticeable differences between the North and South even now. One of the biggest differences is the type of foods and the way they are prepared. For example, in my area there are peas. But in the South you have to refer to a particular variety of peas, such as English, purple hull, whooper-will, black-eyed, crowder, etc. Even the way cornmeal is processed and cornbread prepared is different.
Another difference centers on the phrase, “drop in any time.” I remember years ago, when we first moved to Mississippi, a lady in my church made this comment to me. I thanked her for the invitation, and I said I looked forward to our “anytime” visit.
Several weeks later, I decided one day to drop by my new friend’s home for a visit. I knocked on the side door and nervously waited. The inside door opened. Instead of a smile and “I’m so glad to see you,” there was a look of shock on the woman’s face. Her face revealed I was the last person she wanted to see on her doorstep. I wanted to run right back to my car without saying a word; however, I managed a few words of apology as she opened the screen door. As she prepared coffee, I felt nervous and anxious. I had interrupted her time, and I felt guilty for having done so. Our short visit ended up being strained and tense.
It has been almost 29 years since that incident. The sad truth is I know there have been times when someone has unexpectedly dropped by my house and I have had the same look. The visitor was infringing upon my time, I didn’t have anything prepared, the house was a mess, or the children weren’t behaving properly. The mat at my front door may have said welcome, but that wasn’t what was written on my face.
The subject of hospitality is found throughout the Bible. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:12 which says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Whenever I read this verse, I think about Abraham and how he greeted his guests (Genesis 18:1-3). What would he have missed if he had not had an attitude of genuine welcome?
The same could be true of you and me. When a friend or stranger is at our door, do we realize God has sent them at that particular time for His purposes? What is our heart attitude–welcoming or whining?
Putting a face on hospitality simply means when we open our door, welcome is seen before it is heard. Does your face reflect a gracious spirit of welcome?