Even in the Midst of Dirty Dishes
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: … whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 4:9-10,11b (ESV)
My friend Stella and her husband have been missionaries for more than 60 years, and have led countless people to Christ. At the time of my visit, she was in her eighties and still serving. Another friend, Sheli, and I were honored to stay with her for a week to minister alongside her.
We traveled 30 hours to her home in Takamatsu, Japan, and arrived late in the evening. Stella ushered us into her kitchen for a hearty meal, then prayed for us before we all went to bed. When the sun was barely up the next morning, we feasted on an enormous breakfast in her tiny kitchen.
The kitchen was crowded, her appliances old and worn, dishes piled high in the sink from her lavish food preparation — yet the atmosphere felt entirely like home. As she and her husband read Scripture and encouraged us, tears welled in my eyes, the love of Christ enveloped us; it overwhelmed me.
Immediately after breakfast, Stella began cooking again; this time for 100 women. She’d rented a banquet hall and invited friends, telling them an American would be speaking and there would be food. We cooked and set up tables for the luncheon, and then I was ushered to the front to speak. Her objective in hosting the event was to build relationships in hopes that those who came for lunch would come back again for church on Sunday. Many did!
While driving home after lunch, she told me she’d invited a large group to the house for dinner that night. I couldn’t imagine how we could clean up the mess we’d left behind and simultaneously prepare another meal. How would we get it all done? She didn’t seem concerned. Instead, she was fueled by the energy of what the Lord had done at the luncheon.
There have been times I’ve worried more about my kitchen than how I could serve others. I’d fret over the size and messiness. But I was inspired as I watched this woman who had no concerns about the dirty pots in her sink. Stella didn’t let an unswept floor keep her from ministering. She set the table beautifully and welcomed her guests. She and her husband prayed and read Scripture. Hearts melted.
Years have passed since that week in Japan and I think of my friend Stella whenever I have company. Over the course of her life, she has ministered to thousands in her home, and many have come to know Jesus there. Her ministry had nothing to do with a spotless kitchen. In fact, her kitchen was a mess. But whenever God opened a window of opportunity, she seized it.
I want my service to be like Stella’s. Hers is like that described by the apostle Peter in today’s key verse, grounded "by the strength that God supplies." I want to long for people to know Jesus more than I long for the perfect kitchen.
God cares more about what’s happening among the people in our kitchen than He cares about the state of it. My missionary friend taught me that it is possible to share God’s love, demonstrate His character and offer hospitality — even in the midst of dirty dishes.
Dear Lord, show me ways to serve through the resources You’ve given me. Help me care more about people than things like dirty dishes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 31:15a, "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household." (ESV)
Proverbs 31:25-27, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (ESV)
The secret to making guests feel comfortable is more about the condition of your heart than the condition of your home. For tips on helping others feel refreshed, not impressed, check out Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others.
Visit Sharon Glasgow’s blog for more encouragement on offering hospitality in the midst of messiness.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Your kitchen is a perfect place to show hospitality. Don’t wait for it to be perfect to invite guests. God will supply the ability you need to minister in your kitchen, and He will be glorified.
Would you be willing to invite people to stay for dinner if they dropped by unannounced — even if your kitchen were a mess? Why or why not?
Can you think of a person, family or neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus yet, whom you could invite for dinner? Make a call or send a text and get it on the calendar.