I don't remember why I felt so unfriendly, but am certain I had no reason. Blue Monday, bills, the weather, something. When my friend Doris called wanting to bring her distraught neighbor to my house, I replied, "Absolutely! Come right over!" Then I prayed, "Lord, please make me hospitable!"
Several minutes later, they arrived, and God did something I couldn't possibly have done for myself. He caused me to relax, and my tension lifted. My friend's neighbor shared why she'd come, and I began to be glad that she had.
An hour later as the two women backed down our drive laughing, my spirits soared, The greater bonus came later when my phone rang for the second time. It was Doris.
"I want to tell you Pam's never felt so welcome in anyone's kitchen before," she said. "Do you know she cried? Said you made her feel she'd come home; she couldn't believe you would respond so warmly to a complete stranger."
I told her that it hadn't been me; it had been the Lord. That experience carded me for months—until my hospitality factor was tested again—and again I'd have failed on my own.
"Honey," my husband said over dinner one night, "you know we're running a training session at the office, and I'm bringing twenty-five folks in for the week," He paused as I stiffened, "What would you think about my having them all here for dinner?"
I did a choke-hold on my napkin, forced myself to be calm, and said, "Sure, honey!"
For the next two weeks, I wrestled. I remembered God had given us our home and we had dedicated it to Him for His use.
"But this week?" I groaned.
Finally, one afternoon when I couldn't bear to whimper alone any longer, I called my closest friend for sympathy—and received a scolding.
"Nancy, too few wives these days would say 'yes', but that's one thing that makes us different. Isn't it?"
"Well, yes," I admitted, "but it's such an awful time, because I'm too busy."
"Too busy to bless your husband?"
"So you think I should do it?" I should have called someone else.
"I think so," my friend said. "And not just for your husband, either. You should do it for the others too. Wait a minute, and I'll find my lasagna recipe; it's a perfect for a crowd."
Before I crawled into a bed that night, I fervently prayed, "Lord, You know I do not want to do this, but I want to bless my husband and his friends. Please give me Your nature again. Make me happy to have guests and to give them and my husband a pleasant evening."
Our company was due on Wednesday, and by Tuesday, the Lord had begun to answer my prayer. I began preparation early that morning and found myself actually looking forward to serving. I shopped, polished, arranged flowers, baked enough dessert for twice the expected crowd, and shined every faucet and glass in the house.
At 6:00 pm, they arrived. By evening's end, my husband's happiness and a change in our guests had become obvious. Every one of them had come through the door stiff and formal, but as the evening progressed, we began to resemble a family.
The men loosened their ties, helped themselves to seconds, poured coffee and shared. When the last person had said good-bye with a handshake for my husband and a hug for me, I praised God. Then I ran to the phone to tell my friend.
She reminded me, "God is always gracious, and He desires that we be the same. When we don't feel friendly, we can always turn to Him to make us so."
My friend was right. When callers knock at my door, I can knock at His. He is always willing to give what my guests and I need.