What to do with the Reluctant Guest

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Sometimes a guest will come who doesn’t seem to be at ease sharing my living space with me.  Most often this is the case with a guest that has come alone, and often this reluctant guest is just meeting me for the first time and is feeling shy.

By now I have hosted enough people here that I don’t feel shy about having a stranger in the house[1].  They might see me in my pajamas.  We might startle each other on a trip to the bathroom in the dark of night.  They might walk in on me in my prayer or Bible time.  I have had so many of these moments with people and their children that it no longer phases me.  But the reluctant guest may not have had these types of encounters with a stranger before.

Most of all, I get people who don’t know how to accept free hospitality.  They think that there must be some kind of price that I expect from them.  But I don’t expect any money from anyone who is serving God.  This is my service to God, welcoming His people and saving them at least the cost of lodging and a meal or two.  Nevertheless, some are uncomfortable accepting free lodging.  They feel uncomfortable drinking my coffee or eating the food from my fridge.

Some people will go to the grocery store almost immediately upon arrival—and often they are buying things that I already have in the house.  For example, for the last year I have averaged about ten pounds of pasta in the kitchen at any given time.  People buy it (without looking to see if I already have it), and then they leave it.  At the moment, I also have thirty cans of tuna.  Once I had five opened jars of pesto and two opened jars of tomato sauce in the fridge.  For someone who doesn’t cook any more, this is excessive.

I try to put people at ease about using the things in my house by telling them: “If you don’t have to ask permission to use the toilet paper, then you don’t have to ask permission to use anything in this house.  It’s all for ministry.”  I don’t try to stop them from going to the grocery store.  They might be allergic to regular milk or have some other special need.  But I do ask them to check first to see if I already have two dozen eggs before they buy more eggs.

Another reason why I don’t discourage a trip to the grocery store is because some guests really only feel at home if they can cook.  My kitchen is very well-equipped, so people who like to cook are delighted to have such a kitchen to use.  Others, want to cook because it is more economical than eating out all the time.

The reluctant guest will prefer to spend time alone in their room or out of the house during daylight hours.  This is fine with me.  I am happy to get to know my guests and to spend time with them and pray with them.  But I am equally happy to be let off the hook, so that I don’t have to be their personal tour guide to Milan.

So if you ever come to visit me, unless I have something important to do, I’ll be happy to spend time with you.  But if you prefer to be left alone, I will also be happy to give you a key and the Wi-Fi password, and let you do your own thing while you’re here.  All is ask is please check before you buy more tuna.  God is good!

[1] Of course, I only take in believers or personal friends.

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