"So... Do you want to come to my.... uh... er... trailer?"
I nervously twiddle my thumbs and bite my lip, awaiting a response. It's usually difficult for me to find the right words to use when extending an invitation to what we call “home." After all, just how do you make a fifth-wheel trailer sound appealing or convince someone that it's a place that will be worth their time to come to? Trying to get others excited about it is a whole other issue when, half the time, it’s not exactly the type of place I look forward to coming home to myself!
Granted, our living conditions are definitely not what I would consider ideal for entertaining. How can you get excited to make a gourmet meal for friends and family on a small three-burner stove and tiny one-rack oven, not even big enough to fit a cookie sheet? Well, that’s just the half of it, really. The truth is, a twenty-nine-foot-long abode doesn’t afford many luxuries for guests to enjoy. Yes, I admit it... there’s not really much here, folks.
Often, I succumb to a fear of an anticipated response after describing my living conditions that I neglect to extend a hospitable invitation altogether. The countless frustrations I’ve incurred both from my attempts, as well as my lack of attempts to entertain in my small space, has often left me feeling guilty, unfulfilled, and lonely. So... just what do you do when your living conditions are not exactly ideal for extending hospitality? These have been my musings over the last three-and-a-half years while trying to make friends in a new community. Here are some revelations that I’ve discovered over the last couple of months.
It doesn’t matter what you think you have to offer.... what matters is that you are willing to offer what you have. Jesus was able to feed 5,000 men, not counting multitudes of women and children as well, just by one little boy being willing to share what he had: five loaves of bread and two small fish. Not only that, but they had leftovers to spare! (See John 6:1-13)
Make yourself available.
Make yourself available to meet others’ needs as they arise. Don’t put it off, because you may not have another opportunity. Yes, it is possible it may inconvenience you. However, if you are flexible, you won't get bent out of shape. Don’t ever be too busy, too broke, or too tired for others, or you may find that others will become too busy, too broke, or too tired for you. (See Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 5:15-17, Colossians 4:5, Luke 6:38)
Do what you can do... out of the power of Him Who is in You.
See a need and fill it... feed the hungry, encourage the faint, comfort the sick, inspire the timid, house the homeless, mother the motherless, father the fatherless, befriend the friendless, show kindness to the widow, include the outsider. Find the hurt and heal it. You can offer a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, heartfelt compassion and prayers, words of wisdom, a hearty meal, or even a healing dose of laughter. As Jesus gave to you, you also can give to others because He is in you. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, 1 John 4:4, Isaiah 61:1-6, James 1:27, Proverbs 17:22)
Remember... you are doing it for Jesus!
What we choose to do, or even don’t do makes a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Do things out of a desire to please God and be careful not to become a people-pleaser. Don’t be driven by perfection or think you have to have it all together to be used; it's really quite the opposite. The more cracked your vessel is, the more He can come through... That should be our ultimate goal anyway! Love extravagantly because you can never love too much. How we choose to invest our time, energy, and resources will prove where our treasure is... what Jesus treasures is completely counter cultural! (See Matthew 25:31-46, James 4:17, Hebrews 13:2, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23-24)
Here at my home, however imperfect or messy it may be, whether ready or not, here you can come. We have an open-door, open-heart policy. What you see is what you get. We are real people just like everyone else, with real joys, real hurts, and real passions, who serve a real, good God.
Don't this little twenty-nine-foot fifth-wheel trailer fool you... our treasure is in heaven! What we are building there will be far greater than what we have here on this earth. While we don't have a cute little doormat saying "Welcome" and while our home doesn't always appear the most welcoming, our door is open and you are welcome. Come on in and find Jesus... He lives here too!