Finding a place at the well

We’re preparing for company and my son loves company.

He is a host extraordinaire.  At the first mention of upcoming visitors, he  cleans up his room and then grabs Clorox wipes,  the broom,  and wood polish and heads for the kitchen.

He’s five.

But he’s a five-year-old who loves to entertain guests, and he has mastered some basic essentials of hospitality:  create a clean space, set out games, and provide snacks.  What more could you need?

When I told him last  night that we’d be having company this weekend, I should have been prepared for an early morning wake-up from this boy who needed to  clean his room right this second.

Yes,  it’s 7:30 in the morning and we’re still getting kids ready for school and yes, mom would like some time with a cup of tea first.  But his room was messy and the company was imminent (as in arriving in the next 48 hours).  He does not want to  be unprepared for his guests.

There’s a beautiful moment in Scripture when Abraham shows a similar attentive hospitality. Genesis 18 says three strangers came by and that:

The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1 CSB).

Not just a guest, an unexpected divine guest.

I’d probably lock the door for a few minutes and toss dirty dishes into the oven, clean clothes back  into the dryer, and paper piles into closets before actually welcoming a surprise stranger.

But Abraham is so gracious,  so inviting.  He brings water for their feet and leads them to  a place of rest under the shade of a tree.  He asks Sarah to  bake bread,  prepares a meal , and then serves them a picnic feast of fine foods.

He makes the most of this moment with the Lord.  He is hospitable and attentive.  He is not rushed or stressed about all he isn’t getting done.

The Lord simply appeared.  And Abraham invited Him in.

What  needs to change in me so I can be more  hospitable to the Holy Spirit?  More attentive and considerate of His presence?  More responsive and inviting?  More willing to  sit and fellowship with Him?

I consider the challenge of this because sometimes you sit down for a quiet time, and the Lord feels….quiet.  You read.  You pray.  You copy down the verse.   And then you are done.

But other days you sit down for some time with Jesus and He invites you to linger because His presence is so strong. So you have to choose.  Do we rush Him along or settle in at His  feet?

Abraham chose to welcome the visitor.

His son Isaac did even more.

Yes, Abraham had set up camp and the LORD came to Him, arriving without invitation or planning or pursuit on Abraham’s part

But Isaac purposely set out to dwell in the Lord’s presence, making not just a one-time visit, but a long-term decision to abide..

Genesis says:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 25:11 ESV).

Beer-lahai-roi–that ‘s “the well of him that liveth and seeth me.”  That’s where God called out to  Hagar in the wilderness and He rescued her son by providing this same well to  quench Ishmael’s thirst.  Hagar called Him the “God who sees me” and the “One who looks after me. “Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi” (Genesis 16:14 ESV).

Hagar’s time there was temporary, but  Spurgeon writes:

“Isaac….settled there and made the well of the living and all-seeing God his constant source of supply….Let us too learn to live in the presence of the living God….Happy is the person who lives at the well, with abundant and constant supplies near at hand” (Morning and Evening).

Of all the places Isaac could have  brought his family and made his home, he chooses this holy place, this sacred site, and he settles in.

Could this be me?

Could I be like Abraham, ready, yielded, excited even by the  Lord’s visits?  Am I prepared? Am I ready to clean rooms,  make meals, and rest under a shade tree all in God’s presence simply because He showed up and I want t o be with Him?

But could I also be like Isaac, seeking out this same presence day by day?   Choosing to settle near the well of God’s supply, dwelling with Him and in Him, knowing that this well of His presence will not and will never run dry?

And that’s the best part.  On days when Isaac felt  weary, dry, worn out, stretched thin, stressed, or just had the blahs, he could go  to  the well and drink deeply from the well, dipping the cool  water over  and over if needed, all because he lived day in and day out by the well of His presence.

Bible Verses about Hospitality

  • Leviticus 19:34 ESV
    You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
  • Job 31:32 ESV
    (the sojourner has not lodged in the street;
        I have opened my doors to the traveler),
  • Isaiah 58:6-7 ESV
    “Is not this the fast that I choose:
        to loose the bonds of wickedness,
        to undo the straps of the yoke,
    to let the oppressed[a] go free,
        and to break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
        and bring the homeless poor into your house;
    when you see the naked, to cover him,
        and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
  • Matthew 10:42-44 ESV
    And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
  • Matthew 25:40 ESV
     And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
  • Luke 10:38 ESV
     Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
  • Luke 14:13 ESV
    But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind
  • Romans 12:13 ESV
    Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
  • Galatians 6:10 ESV
    So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
  • Titus 1:7-8 ESV
    For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.
  • Hebrews 13:2 ESV
    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
  • 1 Peter 4:9 ESV
    Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
  • 3 John 1:5-8
    Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Quick! Close the Curtains, Turn out the Lights and Hide!

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her third chapter: “Take a Load Off”

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“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

I hadn’t invited her over.  It was a busy day with a lengthy to-do list and I had no time for visitors.

Yet, my best friend in the whole wide world unexpectedly appeared on my doorstep in the middle of the day and she brought some friends with her.

My first impulse was to hit the light switch and hover in the back of my house in the dim light, hoping she thought I wasn’t home.

But I didn’t.  I scooped up the laundry from my couch and dumped it on my bed, closing the bedroom door behind me. Glancing in the mirror, I smoothed back my hair and threw open the front door, pasting a welcoming smile on my face.

Hey!  What a surprise! Come in!  Welcome, welcome.  Have a seat.  I’ll be with you in a minute.

The sound of the dryer finishing a load cut through the small talk.  I meant to get my guests something to drink and scan the fridge for some lunch prospects.  I meant to.  But, I took a detour to the laundry room to switch over the clothes.

Then the phone rang.  I answered it and made apologetic faces at the visitors while ironing out the details for an upcoming church program with the lady on the other end of the line.

Hanging up the phone, I remembered that I had to get dinner in the crockpot right away or the 6 hours my food was supposed to spend on low heat would end up being 3 hours on high or maybe even 15 minutes in the microwave.

So, I shouted out, “What brings you here today?  What’s new with you?” from the kitchen as I chopped carrots and celery.  Then I made occasional sounds of mild interest and attention, (mmmm hmmmm,  Oh, I see, Wow) while my very dearest and best friend in the whole wide world told me what was on her mind.

Seeing my to-do list on the counter, I entered the living room and gave verbal cues to my friend that it was now time to go.

Well, it was great to see you.  I’m so glad you could stop by for this little chat.  Maybe I’ll call you later this week and we’ll schedule time to get together.

She quickly caught on and stood up to go.  The visit ended, just like that………………………….

Now, don’t cancel your plans to visit with me.  While hospitality certainly isn’t my spiritual gift, I’m not as rude as that made-up story would suggest.

Still, does it amaze you how Abraham reacted when God showed up at his tent door unexpectedly with two friends in the heat of the day?  God didn’t even call first!

When Abraham saw the three surprise visitors headed his way, he didn’t run inside his tent, hang a sign on the door that read “Out to Lunch” and then shut the flaps, hoping they’d think he wasn’t home.

No, he “hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground” (Genesis 18:2).

Then, he immediately and without complaint abandoned his plans for the day and made their comfort his sole focus.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.  Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.  Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant” (Genesis 18:3-5).

He showed hospitality to God.

Abraham begged the Lord to “not pass your servant by.”  And God didn’t.  Instead, He rested in that place.  Rather than delivering a divine message and then disappearing, He sat in the shade of the tree, eating and chatting with Abraham.

That’s right.  God and Abraham “hung out.”

And when the visit was over, the Lord, having been shown hospitality, shared with Abraham the plan for Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction.  This was not the purpose of the visit, but it was a divine revelation borne out of intimate fellowship with God.

While we have the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives continually, still there are moments when He shows up in clear and powerful ways in the middle of our busyness.

He appears at the tent of our heart.  He inquires if we’re home, if we’re willing to spend time with Him.

Do we tell Him to come back tomorrow because we’ve already fulfilled our quiet time quota for the day?  Or do we usher Him into the center of our hearts and show Him hospitality?

Chris Tiegreen wrote:

When He comes to you in the heat of the day, do you bow before Him, offer Him the refreshment of your hospitality, and give of your possessions?  Do you aim to serve?  Then don’t be surprised if God lingers.  Don’t be surprised if He communicates with  you as with a privileged friend.”

I don’t know about you, but I echo Abraham’s prayer that God will “not pass your servant by.”  Oh, how I long for friendship with God.

But, why should He linger with us if we make it clear by our actions that He’s not welcome?

When He asks to spend time with you, turn off the TV.  The next time hubby watches the kids, don’t hit the shops, grab your Bible and journal and visit a park instead.  Or grab a cup of coffee (or in my case a scoop of ice cream) together—yes, go on a date with God.

Make it clear to Him, the best and dearest Friend you’ll ever have, that He is welcome in your life—not for what He does for you or because He fulfills your needs or fixes your problems—but because of who He is.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King