Friday, July 23, 2010

The honor of an invitation

I am studying the book of Ruth this summer. More than a week has passed since studying Ruth 2:14 and comparing it with 2 Samuel 9:1-12, and I just can't stop thinking about it.

Ruth, a widowed woman, a foreigner of enemy ethnicity, has been invited to eat with Boaz, a highly powerful and well-respected man who owns the fields she's been working in. To compare to modern day, this would be like dining with royalty!

In 2 Samuel, King David extended a similar invitation to Mephibosheth, the crippled son of his beloved friend Jonathan...but also the grandson of King Saul who tried to kill him. And David invited him to sit at his dinner table - for the rest of his life, after having returned all of his family's property to him! Again, dining with royalty.

This leads to the question... What is more valuing than being invited to someone's table?

As I reflect on various dinner invitations, meals provided for us, and a week-long stay in our friends' home, I am reminded of (and overwhelmed by) the generosity and incredible thoughtfulness that went into the arrangements. Meal preparations, cleaning the house, the expense, foods picked specifically for us, sleeping arrangements.

A couple of years ago we stayed with friends for a week while on vacation. They gave us their master bedroom (while they slept in the basement). They assembled a crib for Luke, and their children selected their favorite toys to put in the guest room for Zach. They loaned us their van. They grocery shopped in anticipation of our arrival - buying all the kids' favorite foods and snacks! They provided car seats and a stroller for our use during the week. Could they have been anymore thoughtful or generous?

Many other friends have gifted us with tremendous blessings that have not been on such a big, week-long, completely-invading-their-life scale. What immediately comes to mind are meals provided after Luke was born. Kim brought an enormous, should-have-been-on-a-buffet-table fruit platter. And dinner too! She knows how much I love fruit, and I'm pretty sure she brought me one of every fruit she could find. And Shawnda brought us an amazing strawberry cream cake that is one of my favorites (and no cinch to make). And Kathi brought a simple bag of cherries (probably 2 pounds) to the hospital because they are my all-time favorite and the one thing I was craving after 17 1/2 hours of labor. These gifts were prepared and given with me in mind.

As I've studied Ruth and this particular part of her story, the importance of people, and preparations, and invitations has been impressed upon me. It is not hard to recall a time in my life when I threw a party merely because I wanted to have fun or show off my home or just didn't want to be alone, but these days the party throwing is entirely about the people coming! They are truly our guests of honor. Meals provided to families in times of need are not just about nourishing their bodies, but their hearts and souls as well. It's about the love of Jesus Christ, and the love of one neighbor for another. I will never forget my sweet friend who brought a meal over with a note THANKING US for allowing her to serve us that way. I was inspired by that then, and am inspired by it still today.

It is easy to become bogged down with the busyness in life, but it is my desire to intentionally hit the pause button and spend time with friends and give pieces of me -- and get pieces of them -- whenever I can. Tea with a mentor, brunch with a girlfriend, lunch with a cousin, dinner with couples and their kids, holiday parties, end of summer parties... Anything to allow time for friends to get together and feed each other.

I praise God daily for the over-the-top blessings He's provided in my friends.

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