Author: Sarah DeLotelle
It’s a sacred thing to prepare a place for another. Six months ago I pioneered The Gathering: A monthly service uniquely designed for women. I dreamed of creating a space where women could seek, encounter, and delight in the Lord together. I knew I wanted it to include worship, teaching, and fellowship, but I also wanted the setting to be beautiful. I quickly assembled a team of creative women, the type of ladies who know their way around a Hobby Lobby, if ya know what I mean. They fired up their glue guns and set their hands to creating an inviting atmosphere. As women poured through the doors of the first Gathering, the aroma of hot chocolate wafted through the air, bouquets of blooms adorn the table tops, dip dyed paper garlands hung from the ceiling, and candlelight danced off the walls. The space was indeed beautiful. So, why was preparing this space important? It was significant because It communicated to the women in attendance that they were thought about in advance. Their presence was valued, celebrated, and looked to with excitement and expectation. It signified that they were worthy of something lovely.
When we prepare a place for another we’re actually following the example of Jesus. In John 14: 2-3 Jesus tells his disciples that he’s going to Heaven to prepare a place for them “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The fact that Jesus is preparing a heavenly place for me stirs my heart! It speaks to the deep parts of me that I am valued, cherished, and worthy of love. We communicate the same life giving message when we prepare a place for others.
My church supports an anti – trafficking ministry in Atlanta called, “Out Of Darkness”. Their mission is to reach, rescue and restore victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Part of their ministry includes running a safe house. Women who are rescued out of prostitution stay there for three weeks before they’re placed in a long term program. The home provides clothes, medical treatment, representation for any immediate legal needs, and most importantly, the love and support of a new family. Some women from my church recently decorated one of the safe house’s bedrooms. They painted the walls in pale tranquil colors, hung curtains and artwork, restored furniture, and topped the beds with fluffy white comforters. Many of the women who restored the bedroom will never meet the ladies who will stay there, but they wanted the resident to know that they are valued, cherished and worthy of love. This room is where their healing journey will begin. Hope can come in many forms and sometimes it looks like a beautiful bedroom with a fluffy white comforter.
Preparing a place for another doesn’t only look like preparing a physical place, it can also be an emotional or relational place. This may mean intentionally making room in your circle of friends for someone on the outside. We often stray away from pursuing friendships when we don’t need friendships. We can become comfortable in our circle and even fear the change that the inclusion of others could bring. Preparing a place in your circle could look like inviting a new mom in your church on a playdate (even though conversation might be a little more work and require some intentionality). It could mean inviting your single friend over for family dinner, even though you typically invite other couples. It could even be as simple as asking somebody new to sit with you at church.
Shauna Niequest says, “True hospitality is when someone leaves your home feeling better about themselves, not better about you.” The purpose of preparing a place for another is to communicate value. Whether you set your table with paper plates or fine china, whether your spirit animal is Joanna Gaines or you still can’t tell the difference between eggshell and off-white, whether you’re social group is big or small, you can prepare a place for another. It’s a holy thing, a powerful thing, the type of thing that changes hearts and gives hope.