Photo by Belinda Fewings / Unsplash

I hope my puzzle from over a week ago is keeping everyone busy! It's not super easy, but I know it's possible! I have a leaderboard of everyone who's solved it so far. Here's a link for those who missed it:

This one’s for all my treasure-hunting friends ;) We all know the story of the labyrinth. King Minos made the gods angry so they punished everyone around him instead of meeting him face to face. In due time, Minos hid his shame inside a torturous, tortuous prison without so much as


During my freshman year of undergrad, I read this article from the Babylon Bee (a satirical news publication in the days before they became too political for my taste):

Unlucky Charismatic Gets Boring Gift Of Hospitality
REDDING, CA - Unfortunate Charismatic man Robert Wade reportedly received the ‘totally boring’ gift of hospitality as his God-given spiritual gift at a prophecy service Sunday evening.A man with the ‘really cool’ gift of prophecy reportedly moved throughout the room at Wade’s church and read each me…

REDDING, CA—Unfortunate Charismatic man Robert Wade reportedly received the “totally boring” gift of hospitality as his God-given spiritual gift at a prophecy service Sunday evening.

A man with the “really cool” gift of prophecy reportedly moved throughout the room at Wade’s church and read each member’s aura to determine which spiritual gift the Holy Spirit had granted. Wade grew more and more excited as he approached, but was devastated as he learned he just had the “super lame” gift of hospitality.

“Ugh, hospitality, are you serious?” Wade said as the church prophet announced he had detected the Christian virtue as Wade’s supernaturally bestowed talent. “I was really pulling for something cool like tongues or healing.”

“Heck, I’d even take teaching at this point. This sucks,” a downcast Wade added.

At publishing time, Wade had consoled himself by focusing on the fact that he hadn’t gotten something even worse, like giving.

Being a proud southerner, I scoffed at this article. I thought hospitality was my bread and butter. I didn't think of it so much as a spiritual gift; instead, I assumed it was the love language of almost everyone I'd met over my entire life.

In my hometown, people went out of their way to provide food and lodging at the slightest provocation. In fact, there were a lot of times people were so insistent that I stay for supper that I ended up eating twice in one day! Later on in Houston, the hospitality only became more extreme. I lived with friends who housed me and fed me every day for over a year!

Now, for the first time, I have my own home and groceries to offer, and let me tell you: I do not have the gift of hospitality.

hospitality hurts

The deepest and most salient paradox of faith is summed up here by Jesus himself:

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
-- Luke 12:15-34 NIV

I never realized this until I was on the giving end of hospitality: hospitality is a sacrifice. It was so easy for me to be hospitable when I was giving away food that my parents bought me, but now that I buy my own groceries, I'm more protective of them! When I could let someone sleep in the guest bedroom of a house I lived in but didn't own, there was no loss on my part, but now that I don't have a spare bedroom, inviting someone to stay overnight is much more costly. I really didn't plan to have guests in my tiny apartment on my tiny budget, but that all changed this week.

this week's hospitality report

The people who hosted me would always say things like, "We love having you here," and "We're so sorry to see you go!" I obviously didn't believe them. Or, at least, I didn't believe that this would ever be true for me in relation to my guests. I like my personal space and my personal time.

When a friend from undergrad asked to crash at my place for five days, I have to admit, I didn't believe that I would be sorry to have my own home and my own bed back to myself. Boy was I wrong! It was the most wonderful experience! I didn't know how much of a blessing hospitality could be and I never thought about what it means to be a gracious guest. This week, I learned both of those things.

sacrifice of hosting

First, I went grocery shopping and thought about doubling my weekly budget. Upon further thought, I decided to triple it and splurge on things like bread and peanut butter (luxuries I would never indulge in by myself). Next, I got out my extra sheets, made my bed with them, then put my regular sheets on the living room couch so that my guest could have privacy while sleeping (also so I could practice organ in the living room at 5 AM). Finally, I blocked out all my precious free time to spend with my guest (as an introvert, this felt like the end of the world. This is also why I didn't release any posts last week). I went in with a bad attitude but was quickly cured by the kindness of my visiting friend.

grace of a guest

Have you ever noticed that some people make the world a better place just by being part of it? This describes my houseguest perfectly. My guest noticed every good thing I'd done to prepare for their arrival. My guest helped me cook, and clean. My guest took everything we did and filled it with love and laughter. I was so glad that I'd gotten the extra groceries simply because it meant we could spend more time cooking and eating together! In fact, I wish I'd gotten more (maybe some ice cream and popcorn too)! At the end of the day, we even got to bed on time so that I could stumble off the couch and straight onto my organ bench first thing in the morning. Everything was perfect!

what I learned

All this made me realize that I've taken hospitality for granted and never been a gracious guest. Today, after dropping my friend off at the train station and saying goodbye, I spent a lot of time thinking about this fact. Here's what I'm taking away from my experience:

  1. Everything lost by being hospitable will returned to you–filled up, pressed down, and running over.
  2. Everything you do as a guest will be greatly multiplied in the eyes of your host, both good and bad. When you're good to your host, you're also helping every single one of their future guests receive the best hospitality possible.
  3. Finally,  unrelated to hospitality, I had this fact reinforced: always be kind and gracious. There's never a reason to do otherwise. Truly, whether you're a host, a guest, or just walking down the street, treat others the way you would like to be treated.

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