The Gift of Hospitality
Growing up we never knew who might be sitting at our dinner table, because as pastors, my parents often invited someone to join us for a meal. We sat around the table with missionaries as they shared stories of God’s provision, which built faith in our hearts. Sometimes a homeless person devoured a hot meal as we learned compassion rather than judgment. Over the years, we gleaned so many life lessons from the surprise visitors that graced our family dinner table.
Years later, my husband and I were unable to travel with our children to be with family for the Christmas holidays. Our children were disappointed. It seemed that everyone in our church had plans and many were leaving town. As a mom, I was praying for ideas of what we could do to make this year special for our teenagers, but nothing was coming together. On Christmas Eve, we attended our annual Candlelight Communion service and wished everyone a Merry Christmas as they passed by to receive their bread and cup. One meagerly dressed gentleman stood in front of me and reached out to shake my hand. The Holy Spirited prompted an invitation to Christmas dinner with our family. He accepted.
When I shared the news with our kids, they were not exactly thrilled. It was a tough sell. But, once he arrived and conversation around the table began, something happened in each of my children – a softening and compassion invaded their hearts. We followed dinner with some table games, which drew out conversation, laughter, and connection. Our stranger parted that day with stuffed bags of leftovers and clothing items. But, our family had been given the greatest gift, the overflow that comes from giving the gift of hospitality. When you are open to God’s promptings, you just never know who might be sitting at your table.
Ruth Puleo is an ordained minister, conference speaker, writer, mentor, and serves as the Women of Purpose Director for the PennDel District of the Assemblies of God. She passionately seeks to impact the lives of women and girls with courage and inspiration to follow God’s call on their lives. Ruth and her husband, John, were called to pastoral ministry for 38 years while raising their three children. The ultimate blessing has been the gift of eight precious grandchildren.
We all know women who are suffering with life issues that are either beyond their control, or in some way self-induced. This is the third in a series of articles to encourage you to develop relationships with women in pain, to strengthen them, to provide hope, and deliver to them a message of significance and purpose through God’s love.
Depression is an actual illness that can affect the body, the mood, or thoughts. It eventually affects how a person eats or sleeps, how she feels about herself, or the way she thinks. Without treatment, the symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months, or years.
Experts estimate that about 15 million people experience depression each year, and the majority of those are women. Unfortunately, almost two-thirds of those suffering do not get the help they need.
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My 8:45 am flight was delayed 6 times, due to mechanical failure – just a little frightening, don’t you think? It was 9:30 am when they announced ANOTHER DELAY, rendering it impossible to reach my connecting flight in Chicago and making me an airport captive for an additional 6 hours. In sympathy, the attendant informed me that there was one flight leaving for Chicago immediately, but it was at a distant gate. She was willing to give me the last seat on that flight in hopes of a miracle so I could make my connecting flight in Chicago. When they said, ‘I was getting the last seat,’ they were right. It was at the very back of the plane next to the bathroom, with not one seat empty.
So many verses came to mind as I waited with each delay. “My times are in your hand…” Psalm 31:15. “These are the appointed times of the Lord…”Lev. 23:4. I must confess my impatience as I prayed for God to help me accept this delay as a part of His plan for this day. Not everyone is a frequent flier, but all of us have had to wait on line at a busy store or at a stoplight that seems endless. Everyone has experienced delays when we wondered if God was working for us or against us? Even our microwave society cannot protect us from the daily delays that cause set backs, missed appointments or lost connections.
In order to make the departing flight, I had to sprint a mile or more to the next gate lugging two suitcases behind me. With such a large plane, seating rows of passengers, perhaps the boarding process would delay them just long enough for me reach the gate before the door closed. Everyone was seated, buckled and eyeing this final passenger, as I wove my way down the overstuffed isle to the very last seat near the tail. A window seat, squished by the hulk next to me. “God what are you thinking?” “Is this more testing I must experience as part of the refiners fire?” “I am pretty sure that most of the rough stuff has risen to the top under the extreme heat I have experienced in the last 18 – 24 months.” God was silent and did not seemed impressed by my schedule or my diary of events. What He was listening for was my heart.
So I sat there and confessed my frustrations (understood and duly noted) to God. He listened. Then I asked Him to bring peace in my delays and to direct my steps that day according to His plan. I fell asleep till the pilot announced landing was imminent. Would I make my next flight? Impossible! We were more than 2 hours behind schedule and I would be the LAST person to disembark from this flight! I politely assisted those around me with their luggage and packages. Then it was my turn and the path before me had cleared. I booked it to the screen which was flashing flight 646 is now boarding. It had not left yet? No, it had a DELAY that made it possible for me to make that one and only connecting flight to Springfield that day. “The Lord set a definite time…” Ex. 9:5. No one appreciates delays and yet somehow ‘God causes them to work together for good…’Romans 8:28.
We may not know God’s reasons for our delays when they happen. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to gain understanding over time as details unfold that bring clarity. And there are some delays that remain a mystery until Heaven’s conference is called. One thing I do know for sure, is that no matter how many delays we encounter, if we remain faithful to the vision and the call God has placed in our hearts, He will bring it to pass…right on time. Habakkuk 2:3 NASB “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.”
-Ruth Puleo, PennDel Women of Purpose Director