Last Sunday we had a gorgeous afternoon here in the Willamette Valley. The sun was shining and the air temperature was warm enough to invite many in our area to fling open those windows and let breeze have its way. Dave and I had no plans immediately following church services and we had a well-stocked fridge from our shopping trip the day before. What a perfect day to enjoy guests in our home!
Unfortunately, we did not invite anyone to our apartment. Why? Because the kitchen was a mess, our couches were covered in cat hair (our darling Annabelle is shedding ridiculous amounts of her winter coat), and our bathroom counter and floor were in desperate need of a scrub. Sadly, my lack of attention to our little home -- due, in part, to a very full schedule as a teacher -- hindered us from offering hospitality to others. After school on Friday evening, I had looked at our apartment's state of disarray and thought to myself, "Gosh, something really needs to be done about this mess! Ehh...it can wait until tomorrow." Then on Saturday we got busy doing "stuff" around the house and grocery shopping, yet failed again to do the necessary cleaning to bring our little nest back into a state of cleanliness. So here comes Sunday...a rare Sunday when Dave and I are not busy after church and can afford to spend some time in fellowship with others, but our apartment is in no fit state to welcome others in. It was a bummer of an afternoon for me.
While I was reflecting on all of this Sunday afternoon, a verse from one of Paul's letters to Timothy popped into my head:
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Timothy 4:1-2, NASB, emphasis mine)
The words "in season and out" are what chirped in my ear all afternoon long. Dave and I were not ready to bless others with hospitality that afternoon because we had not kept our home prepared. If I (we) had been more diligent about our dishes, picking up after ourselves after each meal, instead of waiting until the pile of dishes rivaled Three-Fingered-Jack for altitude, we would have been prepared "in season and out" to welcome others into our home. Instead we kept to ourselves all afternoon and missed out on the joys of fellowship!
I share this with you, dear friends, in hopes that it will encourage you to be more diligent in tackling the obstacles that are keeping you from offering hospitality and blessings to others. Some obstacles are out of our control. I'm not talking about those. Here I'm talking about bad habits that can be changed...like my lack of attention to the dishes.
Since last weekend, Dave and I have been working together very hard to make sure we go to bed with a clean kitchen. Our living room, too, we are trying to keep picked up (although the cat hair continues to be the bane of our couches' existence). Never again do I want to be kept from being ready for others because of my own negligence. It's disheartening, to say the least. I want to be ready to preach the gospel, offer grace, and bestow comfort and encouragement whenever possible.
What about you? What's hindering you from being ready "in season and out" to welcome someone into your home or in any other way be hospitable? What will you do to beat this obstacle? It's never easy to face our weaknesses, but it is SUCH a relief to conquer them, isn't it?
Would you be willing to share with others what keeps you from being ready? Maybe someone shares your weakness and would be relieved to know that they're not the only one! Maybe we can even encourage each other! Let us do as the author of Hebrews encourages us: "...let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)
Whatever hinders you from expressing the gifts God has given you for blessing others, I encourage you to take them to Him and seek His guidance and help to grow through them into a more eager and ready vessel of His grace...for you and for others. I believe He is honored when we confess our bad habits to Him and allow Him to change our hearts as we diligently act on repentance with changed attitudes and behaviors.