Day 9

Making Room for the Stranger

Leviticus 19:34, Ruth 2:5-12, Matthew 25:35-36, John 4:1-26, Acts 16:6-10

BY Claire Gibson

My husband and I moved into a new house last summer—well, a new house to us, at least. In fact, it is a very old house, full of drafty windows and narrow stairs, but all those quirks were glossed over with stainless steel appliances, fresh paint, and marble countertops. For us, part of the appeal was extra space to share, but we had no idea how quickly the need would arise.

We hadn’t finished unpacking when we learned that a missionary family from Spain needed a place to live for a month. Not knowing who they were or how much English they spoke, we agreed, then hurried to set up a bed and buy some extra towels for the guest bathroom.

The couple arrived a few days later with their 18-month-old son, who had bright blonde hair and a gap-toothed grin. I had only a few semesters of high school Spanish under my belt, but after just a few days, through smiles and hugs and the heavy use of words like gracias, Rebecca and I had become fast friends. We communicated with a mix of Spanglish and charades, soon sharing some of our deepest heartaches and joys, even though we only had the shared vocabulary of kindergarteners. It’s amazing the connection God can forge between strangers.

I love that we serve a God who shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11). In a society where women were ostracized, Jesus frequently addressed women directly, talking to them about their most intimate fears and sins. He had no concern for His own reputation. He saw no difference between rich and poor, able-bodied and lame. Jesus made room for everyone. This makes me wonder, Is it possible that there is no such thing as a stranger? Is it possible that all the boundaries we draw are invisible? Is it possible that the lines of language and skin color and difference are passing away?

It was fun and exciting to welcome a family from Spain into our home. But as I read these verses of Scripture, I’m struck by how much harder it is for me to welcome in those “close” strangers who are a regular part of my life. The sister-in-law who doesn’t quite fit in. The mother who doesn’t live up to my needs or expectations. Sometimes emotional boundary lines are harder to cross than oceans. Yet, God is with us as we welcome those strangers too. He blesses our feeble efforts. He is with us when our patience wears out. He repairs the damage of lost years, and He quiets us with His love.

As Christians, it can be easy to isolate ourselves from the world. But God has shown us that this world is not our home. We, too, are foreigners in a strange land, living here only for a short while before passing on to our permanent address with the Lord.

We, of all people, can afford to open our homes to the stranger, the ostracized, the forgotten. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Post Comments (89)

89 thoughts on "Making Room for the Stranger"

  1. Margaret W says:

    I’m sorry that this word is offensive to you, but I’d like to offer another point of view. As the mother of a son with cerebral palsy as well as several other disabilities, I find it comforting to read and hear it spoken aloud that Jesus healed the lame, the wording still used in most English translations.

  2. Lacey ReneeDalton says:

    Struggling with a foster child… this was much needed today ❤️

  3. Marly Tate says:

    Recently, my husband and I have become ‘the foreigners’, as we just moved close to a town whose nickname is “Scum Lake”. This is where the druggies and Welfare moms and the crazies live in our county; this is where the police are constantly called out for domestic fights and such. It’s actually a beautiful area, but the reputation of the place has always been atrocious.

    I started volunteering at the local St. Vincents thrift shop, and as the cashier, I’m the first person everyone sees when they walk in, and it puts me in the perfect position to be God’s ambassador. This store is so small, I have the time to sit and talk and get to know people, play with their kids and dogs, and hear their stories. And even though my husband has a full time job, we have a house and we live a normal American life, and nobody would mistake us for being ‘Scumlakians,’ they have taken me in as someone who is safe, and that’s a good feeling. The Scumlakians have taken me in as their foreigner.

  4. Sophia Williams says:

    The passages today moved me close to tears- this is why I am doing this study and I am so thankful for all it is revealing to me. Thank you for sharing your stories also.
    Recently we rented our house while we lived abroad for six months and we came to care (from afar) about how our tenants and their two small daughters are getting on- this is a reminder to open our house when we are at home to ‘strangers’ who will soon become friends!

  5. Lindsay Bacon says:

    A good reminder about the “close” strangers in my
    Life that I need to be gracious with and start showing love to.

  6. G L says:

    We just got back from a family vacation, we met my husbands old friend and his wife (whom I barely know, a formal stranger) on a gorgeous beach where we stayed a week. The trip became awkward pretty fast as it became evident to me (and my husband) that the wife of my husbands friend was not particularly welcoming to us. See, this was her family vacation with her extended family and we were the ones on the outside even though the invitation seemed genuine. The wife wanted to keep our families separate even though we were staying just a short walk apart, we missed each other at the beach and we were never invited to join in the day/night plans and if we did she made sure to end the night early. After being ostracized by this women who I didn’t know very well, I began to feel very self conscious and insecure even her husband expressed his frustration but he was caught in the middle. I suggested to invite them over and cook a delicious dinner. We opened our doors and even extended the invite to her aunt and cousin that were along for the vacation. We had a good time and it seemed we were getting along fine; And although that’s the last night we got together, we were able to show hospitality in the way that Jesus showed us when we were strangers.

  7. Monica Davis says:

    Thank God He doesn’t respect our arbitrary “racial” lines. Help me do better.

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