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Posts Tagged ‘hospitality’

One Sunday recently, I found myself part of an interesting lunch-time conversation. We had just consumed the most amazing meal, which our friend, a mother of five young children, had somehow managed to serve us, despite having been at church most of the morning. In complimenting her on her fantastic effort, we mentioned how she is following in the footsteps of her mother, also a wonderful cook.

‘Yes,’ her husband said then. ‘It’s always important to take a good look at your girlfriend’s mother before proposing.’

Now on the surface, his words could have been taken as a compliment. But it was the rolling of his eyes, the resignation on his face and his doleful tone that conveyed something quite different. And the muffled chuckles of other family members reinforced his opinion. You see, our friend’s mother is a great person, but is also known to talk – quite a lot!

I felt sorry for our friend. The comment seemed quite a ‘put down’ to me. Had her husband merely been trying to lighten the moment with his particular sense of humour or perhaps shift the focus onto himself, I wondered? But no, I suspect he was at least partly serious.

‘It’s strange, isn’t it,’ I therefore responded sweetly, ‘how men make these comments about their wives. Have you ever considered that a woman might be well advised to look carefully at her prospective partner’s father before deciding to spend the rest of her life with him?’

My words were greeted with stunned silence and also some surprise. Obviously the males present had not thought about this possibility. Hopefully without being too judgmental, dare I say sexism was still alive and well around that table?

Yet our friend’s comment made me think – and this time along much more spiritual lines! Certainly, his wife resembles her mother, yet, knowing both her parents, I could also see glimpses of her father in her. And I was glad she reflected them both in ways that honoured them and their influence on her life. But she also reflected something of God to me, I felt, with her warm, friendly smile and the gracious, caring way she welcomed us after not having seen her for so many years.

Now I know I too am like my parents in various ways, both positive and negative, but how much do I reflect my heavenly Father in my daily life in a way that honours him? Do people see God in me in the words I write and speak? I am created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27 tells us, but just how clear is that image and ‘family likeness’ to those around me?

In 2 Corinthians 3: 18, after commenting how we reflect the Lord’s glory as we gaze on him, Paul maintains we ‘are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ Yes, we were all created in God’s image, both male and female – but something happened. Sin entered the world and that image became marred and blurred. Yet as we choose to become part of God’s family again, keeping our eyes on the Lord, his Spirit will transform us more and more into his likeness. So God’s image is slowly being restored in me as I cooperate with his Spirit.

Now that sounds pretty amazing and wonderful to me. How about you?

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We have just returned from a great time away in Tasmania. I had never been there before, so enjoyed exploring the quaint, little towns between Launceston and Hobart, sampling the delightful fare offered at chocolate and cheese factories near Devonport and apple orchards in the Huon Valley, strolling around the Salamanca Markets, and seeing the amazing views of the Derwent valley and beyond from the top of Mount Wellington. But most of all, we were blessed by the friendliness and warm hospitality of the Tassie people themselves.

We had no sooner disembarked from the Spirit of Tasmania than we were whisked away for a delicious breakfast with friends in their unique home outside Devonport, surrounded by natural bushland. A time at Worldview College followed, where we were again warmly welcomed. We then headed to old friends and their lovely, little cottage at Beauty Point beside the Tamar River. In Hobart, we stayed in a comfortable home near the city, courtesy of another friend. One evening, a couple we had never met graciously invited me to share about my writing journey at their ‘Connect group’. Then at the end of our time away we were warmly welcomed at our billet in Devonport, before returning to our friends at Beauty Point. Surely all this demonstrates not only true Tassie friendliness but also care to heed Peter’s command to ‘offer hospitality to one another without grumbling’ (1 Peter 4:9).

But what touched us even further was the kindness shown on the two occasions when something happened to our car. One rainy afternoon, our oil gauge went crazy, shooting way over into the red. We put our emergency lights on and contacted the RACT for help. As we waited, an old, battered van pulled up and a man wearing a crumpled, checked ‘flanny’ walked towards us. I was suspicious – he had long, grey hair roughly pulled back in a ponytail and looked quite dishevelled.

‘You okay, mate?’ he drawled.

We explained we had contacted the RACT, after which he simply gave us a wave and ambled back to his van in the rain. I was duly chastised. Yet again, I had judged someone by his appearance and doubted his motives. Other cars had passed us, but the most unlikely person came to our aid.

A few days later, we had a flat tyre. As we struggled to get the wheel back on, an older gentleman stopped. He couldn’t help much, but we appreciated his kind heart. Then just as we were almost done, a young man pulled over. And again, I was chastised. I had not expected such a young man to bother stopping – or the older man either, with his limited ability to help. This whole experience reminded me forcibly of Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Those I would have thought most likely to stop didn’t, while others I didn’t expect to did.

So … which category am I in? I’m sure I often convey to my friends that I don’t relish being disturbed and taken away from my writing. Am I perhaps among those who are quite able to offer help or hospitality but choose not to?  ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ Jesus asks at the end of his parable. The expert in the law replies: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus then says simply: ‘Go and do likewise.

I am challenged, both by Jesus’ words and the kindness and mercy shown to us. How about you?

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There are some things in life we say thank you for quite easily – it’s really nothing more than a habit or a custom. For example, with my thoughts far away, I have just said a very mechanical thank you to my husband as he brought me my morning coffee. And yesterday I blithely waved my thanks to the driver who let me into the line of traffic on a busy motorway. But more than I care to acknowledge, my mind focuses in on the difficulties in my life and the things I don’t have – and I can so easily forget to be thankful.

This past week, one of our daughters returned home safely from Ghana, having married her fiancé there in his home town. She thoroughly enjoyed her visit, meeting family members and friends and experiencing their warm hospitality, but she did miss a few things we take for granted here – hot, running water in our homes; large, air conditioned shopping centres; sealed roads; and the wide variety of foods in supermarkets and restaurants. As a beauty therapist, having to wash her face and hair in cold water and note the resultant mud running off was quite an impacting experience! Needless to say, she was SO thankful to God to be driven home on good roads to her modern, air conditioned unit and to luxuriate in a hot shower again.

I received another reminder to be thankful this past week via my sister, who works with an organisation offering emergency relief. One client recently told her his visit would hopefully be a ‘one-off’ – that he was just going through a difficult patch. Then last week, she received a note from him, written on a recycled card in an envelope made from a piece of paper and sticky-taped together. Even the stamp was recycled, having missed being franked. The note read: I just wanted to thank you all for the kindness you showed me when I was having a really difficult time last month. I really appreciated your support. This man had obviously been in genuine need and was so thankful for the assistance graciously offered him. And he did not forget to say thank you.

And this past week my husband had an experience he will remember for a long time. He wore his brand new, expensive hearing aids one day when he went to pick up our grandchildren after school. After driving them to their home, he realised he had lost one of the hearing aids. They looked everywhere in the house to no avail, so quickly headed back to the school to search the grounds there. But as my husband got out of the car, he suddenly remembered how he had bent down and picked up a ball some child had kicked over the fence. Instantly he knew this must have been when the hearing aid fell out. He looked around on the grass close to the car – and lo and behold, there it was! I leave it to you to imagine how thankful to God he was.

These three examples have forcibly reminded me of the story in Luke 17 of the ten lepers Jesus told to go and show themselves to the priests. On the way, they were healed – yet only one of them came back to thank Jesus. I want to have that same heart of thankfulness that this man had. I want to remember God’s goodness to me on a daily basis and not take it for granted. So later today, when I finally finish writing my sixth novel, the first thing I plan to do is thank God – very fervently! It has been a long road with many interruptions this time around, but I am so grateful to God for enabling me to complete it and for the rich experiences along the way. THANK YOU, LORD!

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