She threw the cupboard doors open and slung open a drawer in one grand gesture. “Here are the glasses and the silverware. So now you know where everything is. You just make yourself at home!” I smiled self-consciously and apologized for the umpteenth time that we were in her house.
She paused and smiled graciously, “We wouldn’t have it any other way!” she exclaimed. And she meant it.
Throughout our two days in the home of our friends, both husband and wife made sure to tell us how happy they were to have us there and how fun it was to visit a bit and they made sure all SIX of us, plus our dog, were as comfortable as we could possibly be.
I did not feel welcome.
I felt uncomfortable. Not because she wasn’t welcoming, but because she was! She was so happy. And gracious. And hospitable. This couple could not have been more accommodating or kind or welcoming. They are the warmest, loveliest people you’d ever want to meet and not once, not even the tiniest little bit, did they make us feel as though we were an inconvenience or an unwelcome surprise. In spite of the fact they already had company, they literally welcomed us with open arms.
I felt unwelcome because of ME. I could chalk it up to the fact that I had just contracted a horrible case of poison oak all over my neck and both forearms and I get it so bad I feel physically sick (not just itchy). I could claim that I was embarrassed that there were six of us and a dog dirtying up their space. I could say that the car accident that wiped our transportation out from under us and prevented us from going anywhere and landing us in the house until further notice had traumatized me. I could suppose it was because I was tired from an intense week of hard work made harder by emotional ups and downs that go with sorting out an estate. Legitimate reasons—all of them.
But the truth is that I felt unwelcome simply because I didn’t feel that I deserved to be there. Our visit was not planned. They were “stuck” with us because of a car accident. We were dirty and tired and ready to be home and I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of my oozing poison oak, self-conscious that six people eat lots of food and we had nothing with us and I was very aware that doggy breath doesn’t endear itself to home-owners. I felt unworthy.
In other words, I chose to consider myself unwelcome. I felt that I needed to fix myself up to be a better guest. Be cleaner, funnier, less tired, less needy. I searched for something to offer these generous and loving friends of ours and I came up blank. So how in the world could they want me in their home?
As we loaded our rental van to complete our cross-country trip to home, she thanked us for staying and mentioned what a blessing it had been to have us in her home and extended a welcome for any time in the future (hopefully without an accident involved).
A blessing? For her? Are you kidding?
The blessing was all ours. We deserved no thanks. The gifts given were all from them to us, none the other direction. If only we were worthy of that blessing.
Jesus stands with His arms open wide. He bids all those who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him and He will give us rest for our souls. He tells us to ask, and it will be given. He shouts that He loves us with an everlasting love. Gifts. All of them. He welcomes us.
Do we feel welcome? If we don’t, it’s certainly not because He hasn’t told us in enough ways that He loves us, cares for us and wants us with Him.
It would be because we don’t choose it. We deem ourselves unworthy of His grace. We decide we need to clean up our oozing soul-sores and make sure our spiritual doggy-breath is fresh and we never quite feel worthy enough to enter His presence.
But we are created to be His best friends. He doesn’t care about our issues – He just cares about us. (tweet this)
He stands at our door and knocks, so that anyone who hears Him and receives Him may have a tight relationship with Him.
We are welcome!