God was teaching me a lesson the other day. It’s one I keep having to learn over and over again: My house is not my own, it’s his.
The day started with a 7.15am breakfast meeting, followed by another meeting, followed by another meeting – all at my house. In the afternoon God interrupted my idolatrous plans for some peace and quiet with a number of out of the blue requests from people needing my help and the dinner – bath – bedtime routine became my sole task as Steve needed to attend to something important. On the macro scale, I don’t mind. I’m committed to ministry and family life being used by God for his purposes. But on the micro scale, I find myself feeling pride and self-righteousness for all my ‘sacrifices’. People who know me well know that I love having my home open to others, but they also know that I’m someone who needs time away from stimulation to re-charge. The problem is, though, I find it so easy to feel entitled to some time and space that’s just mine. In the end, I pursue this goal above the goal of pouring out my life the way Paul talks of in Philippians 2:17. I am forced to admit that my plans for getting a bit of down time, really do come ahead of my plans to show hospitality to others, though I deeply desire to do so.
God is showing me that I don’t need to pursue my own needs being met at all costs. He knows what I need and He is actually more committed to my well-being than I am. When I don’t feel like I’ve got anything left to give, he gives more grace. When I’m feeling like giving up serving because my felt needs are screaming within me, he is asking me to seek him first. On the handful of occasions that I have understood this and given up my idols of comfort and quiet, he has shown me his faithfulness and given me what I need most – grace to serve in his strength. Recently, I’ve been reading Paul Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, and this quote stood out to me:
“When God says in Leviticus 19:18, “I am the LORD”, this reminds us that we have been chosen by him, and our lives are no longer our own. Everything we are and have belongs to him…” p201.
So God owns all the things I call mine: house, kitchen, time, energy, life, children and ministry. I have to keep asking God to help me get rid of my selfish idols so that my life can truly be hospitable for the cause of his gospel, flowing from the strength his grace provides. It turns out, my heart is the place hospitality starts.