A friend of mine, displaced from her small town life, close friends and church family, has had a hard time adjusting to life in the big city. A stay at home mom whose kids are now grown, she is restless, anxious about driving in rush hour traffic, lonely and struggling to recover that sense of ‘home’ she’d known for all her adult life. Been there, can relate.
She was trying to duplicate her old life, but it wasn’t working.
It never does. God never leads us backwards.
When the present feels lonely and scary and the future seems bleak, he tells us to look back and remind ourselves of his faithfulness.
And be grateful.
But straining our necks as we glance over our shoulder, complaining about this rough road we’re on, well…he’s not above taking us around the mountain a few times. Just ask the Israelites.
With Egypt behind them and the Promised Land before them – despite supernatural provisions along the way, they were still fixated on ‘back there.’ “Back in Egypt, back in my day, back in our old neighborhood, back in our old church, back when we had money, back when I was married…”
Ungrateful, really, that’s how I’ve thought about them. How could you not trust God when he had just done a miracle to save your sorry butts?! Not once but over and over.
And yet I’m guilty of the same thing. Maybe it’s just that I don’t like the idea of conquering my promised land a little bit at a time. Seems easier to go back to Egypt and make bricks. Let’s at least try and make a little Egypt right here in the desert, shall we?
What’s this have to do with hospitality?
I can’t ‘practice’ hospitality where I’m living now the way I did in my old house (across town in Egypt). There’s no room for my giant farmhouse table, no fireplace to gather ’round, though my husband did buy us a fireplace DVD complete with crackle soundtrack. The oven doesn’t heat right, the bathroom too funky…. all the excuses I talked about in the past have come back to haunt me.
Yes, of course, I know there’s more to hospitality than that, but for a while there? The only party I wanted to throw was a pity party and I really didn’t want to invite any guests. It’s hard to love strangers when you don’t love yourself.
My little itty bitty pity party would have gone on forever if I hadn’t been confronted with the truth:
Self-pity is a sin. It’s the opposite of thankfulness, and the antithesis of trust. It’s not believing that God is good. ALL the TIME.
Here’s the thing: it’s kind of hard to break bread with people when your loaf is hard as a rock. My bread – my portion, what I have to share at this point in my life – its hard. It’s lost its moisture. Who would want it? I don’t want it! Who would want what I find unpalatable? What I’m ungrateful for? What I feel ashamed of and resentful of?
This? God? You want me to offer this?
Yes, offer it, he says – offer it to me. Your pain, your disappointment, your fears and your tears. Thank me for taking it from you and then eat the bread I’ve given you. The Bread of Life.
I’ve offered it to Him the only way I know how – in song, in tears and trembly voice, I have made a choice to worship. I have moistened this hard bread with a sacrifice of praise and miraculously my portion becomes palatable.
Sweet and savory because it is seasoned with suffering – His suffering, His sacrifice for me.
“My body which is given for you,” Jesus said when he broke off a piece of bread and passed it around to his disciples. “Remember me.”
We can dwell on the past and choke on the bread of painful labors. Or we can remember his sacrifice and feast on the Bread of Life.
Throw a pity party or have communion.
Jesus knows the pain of leaving home; he’s with me in my present home and with my friend in hers.
He’s with you, too. “Temporary homes – just a stop on the way to where we’re going.”
One day He will usher us to our eternal home.
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