Hello My Name Is… (Week 5) – Shunamite Woman
We are now officially half way through the second part of the Hello My Name Is series! So I hope you are enjoying looking at some of the unnamed woman in the bible and digging a bit deeper into their stories. This week we started looking at the Shunamite Woman in 2 Kings. I wonder if you have ever come across her before? Her story is certainly fascinating and she provides many challenges to us today. Our meditation verse this week was:
“She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 2 Kings 4:9-10
The first thing that struck me when I looked at this verse was how over the top this woman is with her hospitality. I mean its lovely to provide him shelter when he comes and to feed him (he’d probably have to sleep on the floor, but its better than outside!), like it says she does in the verse before this one, and I’m sure lots of us would do this if someone came along our way. But this is another level. Building an actual room for this man. This has a feeling of permanency, that it was a long term commitment to be hospitable to this man. Are we willing to go this far? To disrupt our lives to help out another person. To open our homes up to others outside our families. To even go as far as having building work done just for the sake of hospitality?
I know lots of mums in the Facebook community commented on how this verse has made them think about inviting people in more often, or even taking a step to have a foreign student stay with them. This is a great thing to be stirred up in our hearts, and I am praying that some of you feel motivated to take that next step in your hospitality and showing love this way. We are welcoming a new lodger into our home next week in a room we have actually had converted just in the garage just for him, so this verse rings very close to home and has often inspired me! Rather than guests just passing through they become family, which means they see the good, bad and ugly. But that they also experience the love of being family too – what greater witness to people about our Father in heaven than that!
Adding that little bit extra
I am challenged this week to add those little extras – she doesn’t just put a bed up in his room, but also a chair and a desk and lamp. How can we just add that little bit extra to our hospitality? Maybe sending those who come for dinner at our homes off with left overs for the next day. Or maybe we can buy some new slippers so that anyone who comes to stay with us can have a pair and feel more comfy in our home. Maybe, like Pippa said in the facebook live, we can be willing to host playdates AND invite the mum in for coffee at the end, rather than just shooing the child out the door whilst looking frazzled. All those little extras will be noticed and show that we have thought about loving that person.
Are There Levels of hospitality?
I find it interesting, and its been bugging me all week, that she is ONLY offering to build a room for this guy because he is a man of God. My head has been screaming “shouldn’t we love everyone?!!!”. But then I stopped to think about it some more. This woman DID invite him in when we was just someone passing through. She fed him and gave him shelter. I’m sure this wasn’t a one off, and that she probably did that for others too. So everyone receives that love and care. But are there levels to the hospitality that we offer? Is it wise to offer a room in our home to a stranger on the street?
I think that this woman is very wise, and as I stepped into her shoes I saw that she had loved and tested this man to make sure she wouldn’t be hurt by offering him this place in her home and that it would be something that would genuinely benefit him. By getting to know him she has tailored her hospitality to his needs. We can’t do that with strangers, so our hospitality has to be generic really. She has also safeguarded the things that are precious to her – her home and her family. As much as we are to love people, we also have to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of (we are not Christian doormats!).
In Her Shoes
I loved stepping into this woman’s shoes this week – I can almost sense and feel her excitement about planning this surprise for the man who comes to visit! For her it is a ministry and a gifting to be hospitable, and this is an exciting opportunity to do that for Elisha. She is trying to convince her husband that its a good idea, and I know I’ve done the same with my husband when I’ve had an idea come into my heart from God that I really want him to get on board with. Sometimes those ideas might seem outrageous, like this one was, and we might be fearful to mention them to our husbands. But lets be inspired by this woman this week and share our hearts for hospitality with them. Maybe they’ll jump on board too!
I am loving this story, but next week’s verse takes a slightly different turn from hospitality. This is the verse we will be meditating on:
“Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my LORD!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” 2 Kings 4:15-16
I am back from my camping holiday so will be hosting the Facebook Live discussion at 9pm! I know it is bank holiday Monday, but I hope some of you are around to share your initial thoughts about this verse. Last week Pippa dubbed it cake week, so what should this week be called? Send in your suggestions….