Ryan walked into our bedroom and found me laying on our bed, staring at the ceiling. The melancholy in the room was palpable.
I was lamenting.
“I think we’ve made a huge mistake,” I moaned, “I don’t think remodeling our kitchen is pleasing to God.”
My husband – blindsided by the sudden change in my attitude about our current project – cautiously replied, “What are you talking about?”
I rambled, “I just read a story about this family who raised money to build an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. And now all I can think about is that for the cost of our remodel we could build an orphanage for homeless children in Tijuana. How can our project possibly be pleasing to God???”
My husband replied in a gentle, yet practical tone, “Sweetie. This is a great point to discuss, but you should have brought this up before we ripped out our entire kitchen.”
He was right. We were past the point of no return. We had a room without appliances or drywall that used to be our kitchen, three growing boys to feed, and a thriving discipleship ministry that gathers twenty-somethings around our dining table twice a week. Numerous young women join our family dinner on Mondays, and several young men do the same on Thursdays. And through the sacred act of breaking bread together every week, God has woven these young adults into the very fabric of my home as we share food and our lives.
We had no choice but to move forward with our project.
Throughout our remodel shambles, we continued to gather our twenty-something community around our table for family dinners every week – using our barbecue, an electric skillet, and hot plates to prepare meals. Because our homes don’t need to be perfect in order to be open.
Meaningful gatherings happen because people are known, not because they are impressed.
Nevertheless, the question of “Is this pleasing to God?” continued to nag at me as I selected paint colors and appliances.
One Thursday, standing among the plastic sheeting and stud-exposed walls, I shared with one of our twenty-something guys about the orphanage in Tijuana and the tension I was feeling about our remodel.
He chuckled and said, “Don’t you realize that your home IS a spiritual orphanage? Young adults show up here every week to be fed, nourished, loved on, and prayed over. We don’t have another home to go to in our community that is like this.”
As I allowed the blessing of what he said to work it’s way into my weary thoughts, I realized that I was so focused on orphans in a neighboring country that I momentarily forgot that God cares just as much for the people living in my neighborhood. The reality of great needs in other areas do not require me to deny the sincere needs of people in my own community.
God is making provisions for orphans in Tijuana, and twenty-somethings in San Diego.
Loving people well right in our own communities – through shared meals and good conversation – may not be as glamorous as going to a land far, far away to serve Jesus. But nevertheless, opening our front doors wide and welcoming people around our table – so that we can nourish their bodies and souls – transforms our ordinary homes into an invaluable, life-giving resource.
Hospitality is God’s invitation to us to partner with Him in the sacred work of bringing His kingdom to earth, as it is in heaven. Because gathering our neighbors to share a simple meal around our table is a reflection of the great feasting we will enjoy together in heaven. And that, I am certain, is very pleasing to God.