Be Hospitable To One Another Without Complaint
A few years ago my pastor preached a series of stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament on the gift of hospitality. It truly was a blessing to review those true stories of old. Then the pastor asked a few people to share their personal story of ministering this gift in either their homes or elsewhere. I resisted sharing the story that came to mind quickly because it was a difficult one, BUT GOD (!) kept nudging me until I agreed. After all of our stories were shared from the pulpit, a man in the congregation said he liked my story the best. I assume that was because God did an amazing thing which I have pondered in my heart for many years since that day!
1 Peter 4:1-2, 8-9 NASB. Therefore since Christ has suffered (death) in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because He who has suffered (death) in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God……Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
My husband had abandoned me and our two children about 17 years before this story and had gone on to start another family in another state. I tried hard to keep communications open between him and our children through visits and calls. I also worked hard to be an example of returning good for evil in word and deed. (see Romans 12:21) I could only do this because of the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit in my life transforming me to become more like Jesus. Romans 8:28-29 kept me on track.
Our daughter was graduating from high school and requested two parties – a small one for family hosted in a restaurant and a very large one in the local park for her friends and our church members. I would definitely welcome help for the second one which was preparing the food in my kitchen, then packing and carting all of it to set it up in the park. On the Sunday morning of the event, I heard myself accepting offers of help from my husband and his partner. So I went one step further and invited them to have breakfast with me and my daughter while we worked on this project.
So there we were, the other woman and I, scurrying around each other preparing a breakfast and party food, all the while chatting away as women do in the kitchen. What was my husband doing? I found him sitting at my living room coffee table paging through my deceased Dad’s pulpit Bible from which he had preached. I was quietly praying that the notes in the Bible would still be preaching that day! I was feeling happiness in this amazing setting!
We sat down around my dining room table for a quick brunch before heading out to the park. We being my husband and me with our daughter, and his partner and their two children. As is customary at my table, I reached out to hold hands around the table and asked my husband to bless the food and our gathering and to pray a blessing on our daughter and her future. We all joined hands and bowed in prayer! I must say I felt like we had “church” right there. It was a holy moment for me! Since that day I have pondered all these things in my heart…and thanked God!