Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)
TITLE: Search and Try My Heart, Lord
By RENEE GREENE
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November 1979: I called a childhood friend needing to talk about the horrible things that were going on in my life. She invited me over for that “cold cup of water” Jesus had for me that I didn’t know I needed at the time. Of course, I went to her place to complain and bellyache, I didn’t go to talk about Jesus or any of that other Holy Roller stuff she had gotten into recently.
She listened to me intently for about 30 minutes or so, and when I was apparently finished ranting, she opened her Bible (knowing, I suppose, of nothing else she could say to me at the time) and began to talk to me about the saving grace of God.
I didn’t need salvation. The horrible father of my children, who abused me and abandoned them, needed to be saved. I had done nothing wrong, except for the mistake of letting him get anywhere near me. I later realized it was through him that I discovered the weaknesses in my own life: My own willingness to follow toxic people around and allow myself to be bullied; and to believe in everyone except myself.
Literally called “The Sponge”, I soaked up everything around me; taking advice from anyone willing to give me their opinion (everyone). It hit me when I found a bag of hair curlers I’d bought, none of which I could use, and all on advisement from others who didn’t know a thing about my hair. Nothing worked until I decided what was right for my own hair and stayed with it.
Low self-esteem laid me wide open for abuse. What has all this to do with hospitality? At that lowest of low points, the Lord God was most hospitable to me. When my mind would not listen, the Lord allowed my spirit to speak for me. I, obviously, didn’t know what was best.
At the instant that she asked if I wanted to accept the Lord as my personal Savior, my lips were formed to say “No, thank you,” but all that came out was, “Yes.” I looked around the room to see who else was talking; but, in fact, it took me only a second to realize it had come from me. Rather than retract, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Considering the circumstances, what have I got to lose?” I prayed and truly believed it would change nothing.
The next 10 years of my life taught me better. In I Tim. 5:10, to be hospitable is considered the test of a Christian. In that one small act of hospitality, her obedience brought a change in my life that I didn’t think possible. After a long journey of ups/downs, the basic tenets of my faith are still there – calling me to understand how just one “cup of cold water” unto the least of these is the same as a cup of cold water lifted to the Lord.
In the ultimate act of hospitality, Revelation 21:6, the Lord God says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” To this ultimate end, God came to us (humanity) in the flesh during the time of the Disciples and showed the greatest hospitality of all.
Jesus set it off. “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” John 14:1-3 – “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Were it not for His invitation into the Heavenly Kingdom, I would not know what hospitality means – even as a southerner. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I shall feast at the table set for me.
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