God has been teaching me a lesson, and thank goodness, cause I need it.
These last few months have involved a lot of serving, a lot of hosting, a lot of opening up our home and our hearts and setting aside normal routine and work and rest, and replacing it with early rising, an overflowing breakfast table, long hours spent building, quick moments spent doing homeschool, late-night airport runs, long talks with new friends and sometimes, too-little time with the God who has given us this work. And sometimes, a living room filled with new friends singing praises to our Father who brought us all together.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining. I’m learning that hospitality is one of those things that God has put on our hearts that I am not good at… On My Own. (If hospitality is defined as having a clean house and effortlessly thinking through every detail and need that our guests might have.) My parents are good at hosting. As a child, I used to admire the clean house, the tasty food, the fun drinks we offered guests (juices and sodas, people), the pretty arrangements, the extra detail and care given to table setting, the ease at which my parents welcomed people into their home and let them feel a part. The joy, the laughter, the sense of community. I said it wasn’t my gift.
But it’s something that God has put on our hearts, Josh and I, this sense of community. We need each other. Desperately. We need to laugh together, to cry together, to eat together, and sometimes, we need to curl up on the couch with our friends watching Netflix and eating chips and guacamole for dinner. That’s also hospitality.
But lately, I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I don’t get the gratitude or appreciation that I want. (Anybody else have kids?) Sometimes, I don’t get noticed. All those long hours in the kitchen, at the store, planning meals and I find that my spirit had dried up. I start realizing that I love the attention, the praise, the compliments. And it’s not enough. Believe me, I have been inundated with thanks and praise this week, from our visiting team, but it’s not filling my soul. This “behind the scenes” work means that I don’t always get seen. That all the work might not be appreciated. My muffins didn’t make it on to the video and my name didn’t get put in the credits. Maybe, just maybe, that kind of stuff wasn’t the purpose of the trip. Maybe that stuff was necessary for the purpose of fueling and sustaining the the rest of the work. And yet I get inwardly frustrated when I’m not seen.
And so I have missed the point. There is something quietly beautiful about being “behind the ‘seen'”- knowing that all the work has brought glory to the Father, that the lack of earthly praise for me means that there is more Heavenly praise being given to the One who provided the food, who stocked my kitchen, who gave me a love for baking, who brought the people into my home, who is working in each of us to foster the sense of community and LOVE which speaks volumes to the Unreached who are watching us every day.
When I lose my focus, it become all about ME and less about Him. My desire to be SEEN overshadows my Jesus, and that isn’t right.
“Work as if working for the Lord, and not for man.” 1 Cor 3:23. My true desire, which I frequently forget, is to have my Jesus say to me one day, at the end of my earthly life, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
As I go throughout my day, it’s a good reminder to me, as I interact with people, face to face and through social media, to remember that the praise I am seeking is from the One who made me, and not as a result of my good works, or cute kids, or tasty muffins, but because others want to know more about the One who can give me such joy. And if that means that I withdraw a little from my self-created Spotlight to be “behind the Seens,” then so be it. I want to be a vessel so that HE can be seen. And I want my home to open for fellowship, for community, for food and friendship and hospitality that never ceases to be giving, because God has so tirelessly sustained ME with His own “behind the SEEN” encouragement.