Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Angels Unaware

LIFE LESSONS: Angels Unaware
by Cindy Stiverson

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for by so doing some people have shown
hospitality to angels without knowing it."
~Hebrews 13:3

Since taking my first spiritual formation class at MVNU in 1999, I have made it a goal to live this passage. It is actually the theme of my Woven Workbook Season II: "Entertaining Angels." The concept is that we can practice spiritual hospitality anywhere at anytime. The Greek word for hospitality is defined as “love of strangers”. It's not just about opening our home. Spiritual hospitality is about opening our hearts to God and to others.  It encompasses our words, attitudes, and actions toward other people, even complete strangers.

Our Woven trip to NYC was an opportunity to offer hospitality. We were on their turf! So, we obviously could not open our homes to them, we had to open our hearts. We were there to love people right where they're at. Geographically, yes, but also spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We especially wanted to be Jesus to the patients at the AIDS hospice. What we weren't expecting was how effortlessly they revealed Jesus to us.

We were amazed at the patients who clearly loved the Lord. Despite their handicaps, their faces were aglow. One woman especially touched our hearts. She was so excited to see us that she would just squeal with delight...very loudly! It was her only way of communicating. And yet, when she was invited to sing about Jesus, she pronounced every word of the songs!

Imagine how moving it was, when this woman who could not speak, was asked if she remembered me from the day before. She nodded and repeated my name as clear as a bell! My heart melted. Suddenly I was the one who could not speak.

A bit later that evening, a few of us were on the elevator. It stopped on another floor. We waited as a few people boarded. My friend Dustee, who leads Gifted Hands ministry, referred to one of the patients as Tyrone. When I heard his name, he seemed so familiar, as though I may have met him before. But I could not really remember. If I had, I knew it had to have been years since I had seen him. He appeared incapable of carrying on a conversation. Dressed in a robe, he walked slowly and deliberately into the elevator and directly toward ME!

Now this was a large, hospital-type elevator and I was standing along the back wall. His eyes were locked with mine and he did not look at anyone else, nor did he stop walking until he was close enough to reach out his hand to me. When I shook his hand, he said only two words: "You're Cindy." I was stunned. I could not believe it! He knew my name! It still baffles me as I write this. I cannot explain how he could possibly have known my name.

When I reflect on our time with these people who were strangers to us, I am amazed at how very present the Lord was. In this place of disease, disability, death, dying, God was very much alive. We went to offer mercy, hospitality, Jesus. But Jesus had already been there! They didn't seem like strangers at all. To our surprise, we were "showing hospitality to angels without knowing it"!

I am reminded that in times of disease, death, disability, distress, or disappointment, we often wonder where God is. We focus on our pain. We close our hearts. Yet, if we just open our eyes, we see that God is all around. He is everywhere, even in angels unaware!

Are you struggling to trust Him today? Open your heart to the One who knows you by name, the One who has opened both his heart and his home because HE LOVES YOU!

Enjoy this music video, "He Knows My Name", as you worship Him this morning.


Cindy Stiverson
I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.

So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength; and loving and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life.

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