I had seen her – the girl with the green dreadlocks – sitting on the creek’s edge next to an old, rundown van. I parked my truck a few yards away from her, hopped out, we made eye-contact, and smiled a quick “hello”. I went around the corner where the mailboxes stood to check my unit. I felt two things simultaneously: “Hurry up and get the mail before she steals our running truck with the kids inside.” And, “She needs help. Find out whatever she needs and do something about it.”
I came back around the corner and approached her, asking if everything was okay. She said that the van ran out of gas, but, “The man filled it up and then gave us tickets to get meals at the Dining Hall.” I asked if she had a place to stay. She said they didn’t. And then as if I were standing outside my body watching it all play out, I heard myself offer for her (and her boyfriend and two dogs) to stay in our guest room that night.
I gave her some quick directions and hopped back in the truck; I was elated about the possibility of having people in our house that we could share Jesus with. In the half-mile drive from the mailboxes to the house I conjured up a dreamy plan: They would come in and sit down over a cup of tea. We’d share our stories of sin and rebellion and of being rescued by the Savior; they’d be overwhelmed with love and grace and repent of their sin and give their lives to Christ-can-I-get-a-hallelujah!
Pretty great story, right?
When I got home, I called Lucas: “Hey Honey! Just wanted to let you know we might have some guests tonight. I don’t know who they are.”
Lucas: *Little pause* “Oh?”
Lucas (thank the Lord) is my voice of reason. And in hearing his voice, I was suddenly reminded that I have given birth to two darling children who live in this very same house that I just invited strangers into. Suddenly all of my excitement and joy turned into sheer terror. I caught a glimpse in my minds-eye of clips from a 60 Minutes episode – forensic photos of our bodies slaughtered by serial killers. (See why I need my Voice-Of-Reason? I’m a mess.)
Around 6:00, Nicole, Ronnie, and their two dogs came to the door. We invited them in and got them settled. We sat with them over tea and chatted about where they had come from, where they were going. Ronnie had been in the foster care system and as soon as he turned 18, he took off – a traveling gypsy ever since then. Nicole was homeschooled and wanted some adventure. She’s only 17. They both had “been raised in Christian homes” but especially Ronnie had a bad experience with Christianity that left a sour taste in his mouth. We apologized on behalf of those “Christians” who had treated him with such unkindness. “This is not Jesus,” we said. We talked about our great need for the Lord, not just in salvation, but in life after salvation because we’re ruined by sin. The conversation wasn’t long. They didn’t repent and put their trust in Jesus. The subject was soon shifted to their dogs. (They were pretty cute dogs.)
A few hours later, they went to bed. The night was uneventful and in the morning, we woke up – alive. We had breakfast with them, packed them a bag of snacks and off they went.
As I’ve processed through all this, I’ve come to realize some things. Even though I have come to discern the spiritual gifts that God has given me (in helping and giving), I must be discerning with them. Walking in the Spirit doesn’t just apply to running from sin, it also applies to walking in righteousness. I need Him to help me walk away from sin, and I need Him to help me walk in truth – I can’t do either on my own. I must listen to His voice through God’s Word as He guides me in my gifts. When I had simultaneous thoughts of “get back in the truck before she steals it” AND “invite her into your home” I should have stopped for a moment to ask God to help me discern those two opposing thoughts. If I had done that, I think I would have heard, “Honor your husband.” THAT is God’s truth, and nothing will ever oppose it. Inviting strangers into our home without talking to Lucas first, was not honoring him. I don’t regret extending love to strangers, but I do regret not first loving my husband. If I would have first gone to him, I could have told him of the situation, then we could have sat down with them, chatted and let Lucas lead me with discernment.
BUT…in everything that happened, God’s grace abounds. God’s grace abounded through Lucas. He was so gracious with me. Not once did he make me feel foolish (even though he had every right). He corrected me in gentleness and promised to protect me. God’s grace abounded in His protection over us. It abounded over us that we did get to have strangers in our house and love on people that don’t know Him. It abounded in the fact that I have nothing to boast in. Let’s face it – I was pretty thoughtless. But, imagine if my dreamy story came true. I really would have struggled with pride. But now, there is nothing for me to chalk up for myself, but only (and once again) to boast in God’s sweet grace.