Welcoming our first born into our family allowed my heart to stretch wide & open with more room. With each subsequent child, it’s like my spirit burst to overflowing. If there is one thing that has taught me about the hospitable heart of God, it’s the opening up my home to my children.
Our family gathers around the dinner table. We bicker, we shout, we ask for forgiveness and we reconcile. We say things we wished we hadn’t, and talk about the intimate details of our hearts. We make bad choices and good choices. We leave food smudged on our faces. We have greasy fingers wiping across our clothes. We sleep erratically at times, and still the table gets larger and larger.
If there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s seeing how life around the table is about letting go of control.
I never knew how much I would yearn for control as a mama. I pictured myself with more carefree, improv dance sessions (which we still do), and less concerned with how my children behaved in public. But, God knows how to spin our worlds upside down as we lean further into him and less into us. He knows the children we need, in order for us to find out more of ourselves. This is the essence of hospitality; it’s letting go of preconceived notions, and pulling out a chair for the least of these.
As I read about the disciples ushering parents away from Jesus blessing their children, I am often moved to tears by Jesus’ refusal to turn children away. I also get moved with conviction as I easily relate with the disciple’s indignant tone.
Sometimes, I see these two words collide, where I can see the kingdom of heaven coming to earth in a here and now but not yet moment. My daughter taught me this one night gathered around the fire as we celebrated dear friends moving. As everyone, adults and children, began to gather around the family of five, one man began to pray over them. He concluded with an “amen,” while the group began to dissipate. Just as they were dispersing our friend announced, “Oh everyone wait, V wanted to pray!”
I was shocked to hear that my girl asked to pray for them, and honestly a little nervous about what could come from this eight-and-a-half-year-old mouth. But friends, can I say what came out of her mouth was like witnessing the widow give all her coins with mighty God breathed Spirit generosity. Although little and meager, it held weight and power. What she didn’t realize is, her small prayer brought down the house of tears in the adults, this one included. Her little prayer brought forth a majestic table set for royalty; but, they didn’t show up, so the ragamuffins on the street came instead.
Hospitality came in the form of me giving room for my daughter to be herself, and allowing the Spirit of God to move through her; because, he speaks to children just as much as he does adults. Hospitality came in the form of my girl being bold to pray in love, not giving a second thought about eloquent words waxing poetic; because, Jesus isn’t interested in status or power.
Hospitality came in the form of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. Where the stinky shepherds were the first guests to the feast. To me, hospitality is the making of room for my children, because they teach me what it means to love more than anyone else. For that, I’m thankful I get to learn to relinquish control, and welcome more spills, grimy hands, and simple prayers; because, I’m pretty sure that’s how I’ll inherit the kingdom of heaven.