As I mentioned Monday, I found Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland at Half Price Books this last week. This is part four of four in a series about one of my heroes. The book challenged me to live a more purposeful, dedicated, spent life for Jesus Christ.
I was particularly challenged by the way he and his wife, whom he called Biddy (not a negative name back then), invited people into their lives. Oswald was ahead of his time in the way he valued women and how they helped the overall ministry. And above all, he valued his wife. They ministered together almost effortlessly through the vehicle of hospitality.
The biographer writes, “Both Oswald and Biddy believed strongly in the ministry of hospitality. The bungalow at Zeitoun [in Egypt] provided more than a place for them to live. ‘If you have a house,’ Chambers said, ‘the next thing the Bible counsels is hospitality . . . When we try to economize, God puts dry rot in us instantly. When we have the lavish hand, there is munificence [generosity] at once.” (p. 237).
Patrick and I and the kids practiced hospitality a lot when we were church planters in France. Below is a picture of our back yard there. We had a table inside that sat 8, another table just outside (not pictured) that sat six, and the table you see here that seats 6). But often we’d have more people than seats and we fed them weekly. Unfortunately, by the time we moved back to the states, we were weary of loving our friends and neighbors this way. We’d let the fatigue of hospitality totally reverse us to the point that we stopped having people over.Thankfully, by God’s grace and healing, we’re moving out of that sphere and embracing again Oswald and Biddy’s mandate. The Christian disciple must be hospitable. We’re rediscovering the joy of opening up our table to others. Slowly, piece by piece, meal by meal, we’re letting people back in.
I’ve been economizing in my hospitality, as Oswald put it, and I’ve unfortunately found dry rot in my spirit. It’s time to surrender my heart to Jesus afresh, to be willing to be poured out as a family of hospitality. To rely on Him for provision and time and energy.
Mind if I pray?
Lord, forgive me for preferring privacy over blessing others. Forgive me for letting my own fatigue mar my deep desire to minister to others around the table. Please bring people to our table. Help Patrick and I and our kids to minister to others here in our home, to let them into our lives, to be hospitable and warm. Only by Your grace, Lord Jesus. And Your strength. Amen.
How are you doing with the ministry of hospitality? Who do you know who ministers well in this area?