A crowded bus. Sweaty people. Tired babies. Not exactly the picture that comes to mind when I think of hospitality. At least, it didn’t in the past. Now, however, when I think of the word “hospitality,” this is the picture I have in my mind.
On a recent trip to Disney World, we got on the bus to ride back to where we were staying. It was midday, but we were tired. Our feet were aching. The girls were quiet and ready for a nap. We found our seats and thanked God for the creation of air conditioning. The girls were looking through some cards they had collected for a game you can play in Magic Kingdom. The cards are free, but you can only get one pack each day you visit. They were comparing the cards they had received while a couple struck up a conversation with us. You see, this isn’t uncommon. I’m amazed at how people on Disney buses actually TALK to each other. “Hey, where are you from?” “Those are some nice ears!” “Would you like to sit down? I don’t mind standing.”
These folks were big Disney fans like us. They had a little boy and he was there for his birthday. We were chatting about everything from the weather to our childhoods. Right before we got off the bus, the dad handed our girls each a pack of the cards they were collecting. He said, “We really have more than we would ever need and your girls will enjoy them.”
It was a magical moment and the looks on the faces of my tired little girls was priceless.
Sure, those cards didn’t cost the couple anything to receive – but it did cost them something to give them away. They gave up their right to keep something that was given to them. They gave up having more because they realized they had enough.
They were “open hands” people.
1 Peter 4:9-11 is an “open hands” kind of passage. Words like “hospitality” and “good stewards” are used in a way that challenges us to live as though God is speaking through our words and actions.
Here are a few quick definitions . . .
Hospitality: generous treatment of others.
Steward: a person whose job is to manage the land and property of another person.
Generous: providing more than the amount that is needed or normal.
When I look at these definitions, I can’t help looking at the list of things I’ve been given care over. The things that ultimately are not mine, but I am a steward over.
Am I caring for these things responsibly? Generously?
I want to be an “open hands” kind of person, not worrying that I won’t have enough. Open hands to be generous with my time and resources. Open hands to give more than what is normal. Open hands to go above and beyond to show kindness. Open hands to recognize it’s all been given to me to care for – not to hoard. Open hands to give up my right to be right.
Open hands also means letting go of the things that aren’t vital, so my time and my money aren’t wasted. Letting go of the things that take up space in my schedule and wallet that don’t matter – so I can use them for the things that do.
I want to use whatever gifts I have received for the good of others. I’m still learning – and it’s not easy to let go of certain things. And sometimes I worry about MY needs being met. However, I believe that when someone lives with open hands, they are able to receive things like peace, healthy relationships, fulfillment and joy. I really do. You can’t receive when your hands are clenched in fear.
At the end of my life, I want to have been spent completely on things that matter. Nothing held back. That will be a life well lived.
So, I ask you. In what areas will YOU be generous? How can you use your gifts for the good of others? And, just imagine what could happen if we ALL lived with open hands.