Do you enjoy your own time, a time of privacy? Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to invite strangers into our home. Of course in these days one must be careful, depending on environmental conditions. It could be encouraging a dangerous situation. On the other hand, it could be an invitation of hospitality to an angel and a special blessing.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
We see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live.
The writer of Hebrews turns to the issue of entertaining strangers. After reminding us to keep on loving each other, he explains that love should also be extended to the strangers in our midst. They could possibly even be angels.
I’m sure the believers of Jewish background on hearing or reading this epistle, would immediately remember back to the example of Father Abraham when three strangers unexpectedly visited one day while he was at rest. He extended full hospitality to them only to discover they were heavenly beings on a special mission, traveling toward Sodom and the Five Cities to gain firsthand knowledge of complaints from there reaching heaven. Genesis 18:2
It brings to memory a certain something every time I read that verse. Something I should have forgotten long ago, but which I still find haunting.
It was a time when I lived on campus while serving at the Mission and Chapel. I heard somebody knock at the outside door of my apartment. It was early evening, I had been reading, and it was otherwise quiet for an inner-city landscape during early summer.
It was unusual for anybody to come knocking for the reason that if I was needed at the Mission, I would receive a call on my phone.
I went to the door and opened it. There stood a young man, approximately 30-ish. He asked if this was the Mission, where he could spend the night. I explained that he was at the door of a small staff apartment building, and gave him directions to the Mission, just a block down the street and told him they would be glad to welcome him as an overnight intake and give him a meal.
But he hesitated then asked if he could stay with me in my apartment for the night. This was a very unusual request and disoriented me slightly for a moment, even though there was nothing remotely dangerous-looking about the lad. I again gave him directions to the mission and explained Mission staff only was permitted to be in the place he was now standing. As he still hesitated even after my explanation, I offered to escort him to the Mission and see to his overnight intake, personally. He said “no” that he could find it and walked away.
I went back upstairs to my repose and resumed reading. I had been in the epistle of Hebrews and came upon the above mentioned verse and stopped, startled. Had I just turned away a visiting angel, unawares?
This question remains with me these many years later.
There are many recorded instances in scripture that cause me to pause and reflect.
On more than one occasion I had been walking a quiet hallway at the Mission and suddenly heard my name whispered from behind quickly and with urgency. Turning to look I saw nobody. Not once did I think to respond by answering, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” as Samuel was instructed by Eli to do in 1 Samuel 3:9.
A time such as now makes me ponder and ask myself how many opportunities have I missed in a lifetime?
Then again maybe autumn of life is a gift we are afforded by the Lord for just such musings.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10