Friday, May 11, 2012

Roll Out The Welcome Mat

Lydia was the queen of hospitality. I'm not even sure it was something she had to work at. I think it was her gift. She just had that way of making people feel comfortable. Do you know people that have that make you feel warm and welcome? I do. My best has more hospitality flowing through her than most people I know. She is the Martha Stewart of making you feel warm and welcome. She might even top Martha in all the other departments too.

Lydia was the girl who loved celebrations. Yep, she was that girl we read about that loved using purple cloth to make clothing. She was a woman of many gifts. On the list of Proverbs 31 women, she would have led the pack. The example for all women to follow.

Her life changed in a moment. Don't you love how God works? He just sets up the perfect time and place for the meeting that is about to change everything for us. All we have to do is show up. That's what happened to Lydia when Paul and Silas came to town. Here they were preaching and teaching and there was Lydia listening with intention. She accepted Christ as her Savior and do you know what she did next? She invited Paul and Silas to her home and they had a celebration and invited all the neighbors. Now that's how to do it up right.

Paul and Silas end up staying in her home up until the day they are imprisoned. While in prison, Paul writes a letter to the church of Philippi. I think these words could have been penned just for Lydia.

 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of all of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:3-6

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."
Philippians 2:4-7

What I love about this story is that Lydia is an ordinary woman being used in extraordinary ways by God. She accepted Him and became a willing vessel for Him. We can read about Lydia in Acts 16:9-40. Here she meets Paul and Silas, life changes and she begins a study with her neighbors. Not unlike what we do. They gathered, just a few of them, and then that few grew to be a bit more and then a lot more, until the church of Philippi was born. I think that's a pretty huge view of what God can do with just one willing heart.

Lydia was the head of her home. It never says what happened in her past. Maybe she was married, maybe her family was all gone now. But no matter what had happened, Lydia took the initiative and began working. That says a lot about her personality and her character.

She made herself available to others. She opened her home and heart. Attitude is everything! Lydia seemed to be filled with joy. She was that girl that lit up the room. The life of the party. That girl who could bring you out of the corner and make you feel welcome. She was a great designer of her time. We would call her the leader of the runway today. But she just didn't lay out that runway carpet, she placed the welcome mat in front of her door and heart and said, "Come on in and make yourself comfortable".

Like my friend, Shirley, Lydia, made everyone feel welcome and warm in her home. I admire her already. Anyone who can sew has my vote, but her gifts didn't stop there. She allowed the Lord to shine through the gifts He bestowed upon her and in turn others saw the pure love of Christ, flow through her. I can just hear her tender voice.

I'm not always that hospitable person. There are times I would just like to shut my door and leave the world where it is. Outside. After all, we are busy and have so much to do. What about kicking our feet up and taking care of number one? We can all have those attitudes, can't we? It's easy after a hard day of work or a aggravating circumstance. But we must learn to move beyond ourselves. Think of all we are missing if we leave out everyone else?

Think of that friend who comes knocking who is having one of those days where she just needs a friend to listen. What if she had the door slammed in her face or was told, "I'm really busy, whatcha need?" Okay, when we tell our friends and family we are busy, they kind of take that as an unwelcome slap.

Wouldn't it be better to look beyond ourselves? The blessings wouldn't just be for that friend at the door, but us, the one opening the door. Jesus has a way of blessing those who look beyond themselves and allow room for others. Ah, we wouldn't want to miss out on anything our Savior has for us would we?

I see Lydia as one of those older women in church. You know them. They don't just come to the pot luck dinner with chips and salsa. Guilty! They come with food to feed an army. They stay after and do dishes. They even come to you and make you feel good about the chips and salsa you brought!

In the end, isn't really all about sharing the love of Christ? Giving to others what Christ gives to us daily? When you walk into someones home, would you rather see prunes on the kitchen table or a plate of homemade cookies? Okay, those prunes may come in handy, but those cookies go good with a cold glass of milk and some great conversation from a friend willing to take the time to listen.
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