The stain on the seat cushion glared at me. This house would never be clean enough for guests. Who was I kidding? Why had I agreed to host a Bible study in the first place?
My perfectionist nature kicked into overdrive. I convinced myself it was a mistake to open our home. After all, I’d never made a Pinterest worthy treat in my life.
When I hosted a Fourth of July party for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) my Pinterest inspired key lime cheesecake turned into a gloppy mess. No one told me you were supposed to wait until serving time to add the whipped cream.
These are things a person gifted in hospitality should know, right?
I settled on a spinach dip with three ingredients and brownies for the first Bible study, figuring it would be impossible to mess up such simple treats. I didn’t anticipate my two-year-old’s resolve to eat all of the brownies before any of the guests arrived.
To add to my stress, his new favorite pastime was undoing everything I set out to do. I made the bed. He unmade it. I cleaned up a pile of toys. He decided he wanted to play with them again.
In the midst of my frustration, I looked into my son’s eyes and saw one thing: the desire for more of me. My love, my attention, my undivided self. I jumped on the bed and threw my exasperation out the window, along with my resolve for a perfect house.
As we giggled and rolled around the bed, God sent a gentle reminder that hospitality is not about having a Martha Stewart ready living room or immaculately crafted hors d’oeuvres. All these things are wonderful, but the heart of hospitality lies in the heart of the host.
Our guests enter our homes with the same desire as my two-year-old: the desire for love. A spotless kitchen floor can never replace that.
We often fool ourselves into thinking our homes are too small or cluttered, our kitchens too 70’s inspired instead of HGTV inspired, and we miss out on an opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet.
But God does not call us to strive for perfection only he can attain. He simply calls us to open our doors.
When we answer his call to love and open our doors, we not only take in those who are knocking. We open the door to Christ as well.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV
When our church family poured into our house that night, the only one who noticed the stained cushion was me. We shared stories and laughed. We strengthened the bonds of friendship which started within the church walls.
As I watched my friends make themselves at home and graciously accepted compliments on my three-ingredient dip, I realized what true hospitality was. It was simply saying, “yes” to God’s invitation. The invitation he gives us every day to reach a little further outside of ourselves, love a little deeper, and give a little more.
The invitation is the same every day, as sure as the morning sun. Will you answer it?