Fundamentally, hospitality is simply love in action. It has much more to do with resources of a generous heart than with sufficiency of food or space.
A few years back I was out running and I heard – ‘Amy, do you think you use your gift of hospitality to the capacity you have been given it?’. I thought about this for awhile……. what was my capacity? I knew I was using this gift to bless others but was I challenging and shaping this gift or was I playing it safe, merely doing what was comfortable and convenient for me? After a few moments I knew my answer……. I was playing it safe, just doing what was easy. Then I heard something that forever changed the course of my life………’Amy, do you know what that is like???’ To be honest, I didn’t want to know what that was like! I responded, ‘What is it like?’ At that moment a childhood story came to mind……
The Parable of the Talents
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.To one he gave five talents,to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
I then heard – ‘Amy, you are the wicked servant’.
What was I hearing…….. Am I truly wicked if I am not using this gift I have been given? I stopped running at that point, it felt like a dagger through my heart. All the air left my lungs. I was unable to move. ‘I’m sorry’, was all I could say. ‘What will you give me?’ was the next thing I heard. I replied, ‘I could give you 6 days a week, 24 hours a day’. ‘How do you start?’ I heard following. ‘I start with one day.’, I responded. ‘What day of the week will you start with’, I heard. I thought about it…. Monday was my day off from work so I decided on Mondays. ’When will you start?’ was the next thing I heard. ‘You are not giving me anytime to back out.’, was my response. ‘I don’t know what this means or what it will look like and I need to talk to Brian…….. I will start in 2 Mondays.’ At this point I hightailed it to our place to inform my husband of the conversation that had just taken place.
What an amazing man I choose to partner with……. He enthusiastically took on the challenge with me. From that moment on we began to tell people what we had heard. We would open our home on Mondays for anyone and everyone that needed community, anyone in need of someone to love on them. With great anticipation we prepared and awaited our first Monday. What was going to be in store for us?!?!
The Friday before our first Monday was to begin I went to work like any other Friday…… but this one was different. At the end of the day my boss came in with tears in her eyes….. management was working on the budgets for the following year……. there was no room for me in the budget to continue. I was stunned……. At this time in our lives Brian was in school full time. My income was the only one we had. As I drove home to tell Brian what had happened I have to admit, I was confused, hurt, frustrated and angry. And I told God this………. would you like to know the response I received? ‘Thank you Amy for giving me one day…… I am now taking the other 5!’
How was this going to work? We had no savings, no assets, we were living month to month, eating Top Ramon 4 to 5 night’s a week already, our apartment was less than 500 square feet. How were we suppose to care for our neighbors and community when we didn’t know how we were to take care of ourselves. The only way I could handle the situation and remain bold and encouraging was to try and find all the silver linings….. the first thing I thought was ‘Thank God I went to Costco on Thursday (the day before I lost my job) I would at least have food for people on the first Monday.
Monday arrived! Now what? I woke up excited and scared to death….. what had we gotten into? What on earth is this even suppose to look like? The apartment was ready! I unlocked the door. I didn’t know what to expect or what to do with myself. So I decided to pray and dance. I did this for a few hours. Now what…… I went down to go get our mail and on the way I ran into our downstairs neighbor. We began to chat…. as the conversation progressed I learned that this family of 3 was in a worse place than we were financial (which basically meant they had a child, no work, and can you guess…… no food.) Then I heard that voice…… that beautiful haunting voice that asks me to do and say crazy things…… ‘Give her half of all your food.’
We went upstairs into my place and began to pull out everything from our panty, fridge and freeze. I have to admit….. It was more fun then I thought. To be bold in the face of scarcity and uncertainty is not an easy task. There have been times in my life that I have looked for ways to fight against a lifestyle of consumerism. This was one of those defining moments. A moment that would forever change my life. We proceeded to take everything down to her place and fill up her refrigerator, freezer and panty. We returned to my place to clean up and put everything away. Then it happened…….. as I was holding the last item in my hand (a loaf of bread) putting it in the fridge something didn’t look right. I had to step back………. I looked at my neighbor and asked her if it looked like anything was missing from my refrigerator. We stood and started for awhile….. Nothing was missing! We ran down to her place……
Refrigerator – Full…..
Freezer – Full,
Panty – Full!!!!
What was happening?!? This couldn’t be possible. We ran upstairs to my place….
Refrigerator – Full…..
Freezer – Full,
Panty – Full!!!!
Food began to multiply in our home for the next 8 months for all to see, experience and be apart of the miracle.