It was December 30, 2017, the evening before we were hosting a New Year’s celebration for a few families from my husband’s work. We have always enjoyed hosting and entertaining and were excited to have a large group of friends to celebrate with. The guests all had young kids, like ours, and even though none of us expected to actually stay up until midnight, we still wanted to celebrate the beginning of the New Year together.
Although we are normally a fairly tidy family, it being the night before we expected guests, the house was a mess. I planned to wait until the next day to get serious about house cleaning so that everything would look great when our guests arrived. After all, it was December in the mountains and we had two dogs and four kids running in and out enjoying the melting snow and inevitable mud?!? Needless to say, our floors were a special kind of East Mountains dirty that evening.
As I arrived home from the grocery store, my mind was not on guests yet. I was thinking about getting groceries put away, putting leftover lentil soup on the stove and fresh cornbread in the oven. We were busy discussing how we would prep for our friends coming ‘tomorrow’ when Dave looked up and said, “Look at that, someone’s pulling in the driveway.”
I nonchalantly said, “I sure hope they don’t want to come in!” sure that it was the mail carrier or UPS truck.
A couple from Dave’s work had showed up a day early for the New Year’s Party! And they didn’t JUST show up; they had prepared smoked salmon with caviar, drove over an hour to get to our home, and were so embarrassed that they had gotten the day wrong. I was as MORTIFIED as they were UNCOMFORTABLE. My house was a mess. All I had to offer was leftover lentil soup (which hadn’t been pretty on night one, much less a meal I wanted to serve guests as leftovers) and thank goodness hot-out-of-the-oven cornbread.
God reminded me that He works in all things,
not just the things I plan!
Dave welcomed them in; I fumbled, blushed, and apologized for the mess. Then they fumbled, blushed and apologized for being 24 hours early! They insisted that they would just drive home and we would all forget the whole thing. I wanted to agree, but God nudged my heart to invite them in, forget the messy house and give thanks for whatever He had planned for us. And let’s be honest, the promise of smoked salmon may have helped me say yes.
In the book “The Gospel Comes with a Housekey” Rosaria Butterfield says,
“God calls us to make sacrifices that hurt so that others can be served and maybe even saved. We are called to die. Nothing less. Radically ordinary hospitality serves ravioli with redemption life. It is fearless; it is faithful.”
In that moment, I was not fearless but I was faithful; my ideal of a perfect house, any notion of being completely prepared for guests and being a perfectly put-together hostess, had to die. I had to lay that at God’s feet and beg that He would make something wonderful out of my mess and inadequacy.
So, we invited them in. We set the table. I let my pride die right there on my dirty floor and we had an amazing evening. Our guests were lovely. Ami (name changed) is Japanese and spoke very little English, her husband didn’t enjoy being in a large crowd and had struggled with a number of co-workers who would be there the next night and they would not have enjoyed being with the 40+ adults and kiddos that joined us the following night. Their youngest daughter got along quickly with our own children and felt right at home. The simple truth is that Ami and I never would have had three hours to ourselves to discuss quilting, parenting as military families, the struggles of moving regularly, and the challenges her family faces as she attends a Japanese Baptist Church and her husband and children a large non-denominational church, if God had not gifted us with that time so that I could focus just on her.
What a gift that evening was. As I died to my pride, I saw God show up and open a space for us. Ami was allowed to be imperfect in her language as I was imperfect with, well, almost everything else. We laughed easily over the other’s short-comings; their timing and my house keeping. We made connections: being Christians, military spouses and quilters. God reminded me that He works in all things, not just the things I plan!
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Ami and I would have missed so much if we had allowed our perceived imperfections to become obstacles that night. As God removed the boundary I put up, He made the space for something wonderful to happen and I am so glad that He did.
The truth is, I haven’t seen Ami again and I likely never will. They moved shortly after our early New Year’s celebration and it is unlikely that we will ever live near the same base again. But I don’t think that God’s point was to form a life-long friendship that day. Instead, He was teaching me that my personal comfort, my pride over being the perfect hostess, or a fantastic cook, is not His goal. God called me to be available, regardless of my home, the perfect meal, or anything else about me ‘feeling’ prepared and He meet me and Ami right there and blessed us both.
How has God blessed you by calling you out of your comfort zone?