I’m Here: Reflections on the Gifts of Hospitality and Time

While listening to the radio on my way to church last month, I heard a beautiful explanation of a common Jewish custom.  The speaker explained the significance of putting rocks on a loved one’s gravestone. He explained that it’s a way of announcing to a departed loved one, “I’m here and I haven’t forgotten you.”

That’s a beautiful custom. Yet, how much more beautiful does this custom become if we can practice it while our loved ones are alive? Clearly the placement of stones isn’t involved in practicing this custom with the living, but how can we intentionally demonstrate to our friends and loved ones that we are present in their lives?

There’s a story in the Bible in 2 Kings that demonstrates this idea beautifully. Elijah is with Elisha before Elijah is going to be taken up to heaven. Elijah and a band of prophets try to get Elisha to stay while he goes on to Bethel. Elisha’s response to Elijah is beautiful, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” And that is exactly what Elisha does.

How can we be present and not leave our friends and loved ones? How can we practice this in our church body? How can we say like Elisha, “I will not leave you!” Two ways we can demonstrate our presence and commitment to others is through the gift of time and hospitality.

We live in a fast-paced society with a myriad of demands upon our time and our lives. Yet it is our time that our family, loved ones and church community so desperately need. How can you intentionally gift your friends, loved ones and our church body with your time, even this week? How is God calling you to actually spend time with people you may have neglected? Will it require you to leave work early to be present for a family dinner or cancel a social obligation in order to spend time with a loved one that needs you? Nothing says, “I’m here,” more than the gift of our time.

It’s all too easy to contribute to others feeling forgotten. We get caught up in conflicting demands and busy schedules and we forget others. We neglect to invite others into our homes and to share our lives, a meal and our love with them. Is there someone you can think of from our church body or in your neighborhood that gets overlooked and forgotten? Can you call or email them today and invite them to your home and into your life? Can you help this person feel that they are remembered; that they are not forgotten?

The gift of time and the practice of hospitality will look differently for each one of us. But I’ll close with this challenge. Pray. Pray and ask God whom you can gift with your time and hospitality. Pray again. Pray and ask God how you can best demonstrate to that person how you are there in their life and how you haven’t forgotten them.

Karen Jacobsen serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry and Refuge 686 (adoption/foster care).  She enjoys swing dancing whenever time permits.