We hear it all the time as followers of Jesus (or at least, we should if we are listening to those speaking of Him). God calls us in several places of scripture to pay attention to our levels of hospitality. How welcoming are we to others? Who are we willing to welcome? How does our openness to “others” reflect the Love of God who has welcomed us to Himself?
Often, we hear these invitations and do what we can to accomplish a certain level of hospitality without making ourselves uncomfortable. “My door is always open!”, we may say. “I would definitely welcome the stranger, or the one who is lonely or feels cast out, or different.” We keep a guest room in our house. We keep fresh towels in the closet. We have a food pantry in the closet at church. We save a back row for visitors. “There.”, we say to ourselves. “There is the evidence of our Christian welcome.”
Recently we were walking along a branch of the Danube River, and I noticed an iron ring affixed to the concrete at the highest level near the upper sidewalk. It’s obviously a place where a small boat could anchor – but it’s so far from the water (where the boats are), that it doesn’t seem to do much good. The boats are all down in the water. In order for this particular iron ring to do much good – there’d have to be significant levels of flooding.
(I understand someone out there with greater knowledge of upper-level anchors may destroy my analogy – but just let it go for now.)
It wasn’t long before I heard God whispering: “So often, my children offer their welcome to unmoored people in a similar fashion. But there is hope – the world is so flooded right now.”
Many of us are hopefully learning how to reach outside of our usual experience and routine of life. Some of us may actually feel unmoored. But some of us are using these moments to discover open doors where we can reach out to connect with others. We aren’t just waiting for suffering people to show up – but we know that everyone is suffering to some extent right now. It may just be the extrovert in me (who seriously misses people), but I think everyone is developing a new appreciation for people who are welcoming.
The question is – as the floodwaters recede, are we willing to uproot the polite offers of Christian hospitality and the welcome we used to be proud of (even unused)? Will we take our resources, and focus our efforts closer to the waters where those who need to dock can more easily reach? Will we head out in boats of our own – as those who can rescue and bring to shore those who are overcome by the waves/currents?
I’m purposefully leaving much of this vague – because I do believe there’s an area, or a particular way God invites each reader here to become aware of what He’s asking of them. I want to encourage you – don’t wait for the waters to recede to ask God how you can become His welcoming presence. There are so many who feel pulled away from the shores, and have given up on being welcomed by iron rings on the upper sidewalks. There are many who feel adrift on unfamiliar waters. Will you come a bit closer?
Dear reader – if this feeling of being unmoored, alone, and adrift describes you – please know that this post itself is an offering of welcome. God meets you here, and calms the waters in this moment – to walk with you by the shore. Seek Him, and He will lead you to others who are walking with Him as well.
This is the way of our Savior. This is the way of those who desire to follow Him.