Until last July we lived in a condo that was quite unfriendly for visitors. Not only was it small, there was nowhere for anyone to park. So when we moved into our new house I was determined to entertain and faithfully use the ample space that God has provided for us. I have hosted many parties and guests in the last year, and have loved every second of it. In just the last two and a half weeks we've had a number of guests. To be exact, I've had fifteen different people who only stayed for a meal, and sixteen different overnight guests. They hailed from Hong Kong and five different states. What a privilege to have glimpses of all of these stories -- thirty-one different flavors of people.
I heard embarrassing stories, hilarious stories and profoundly sad stories. I heard about suffering, about discrimination, about misconceptions, about perseverance, victory and bravery. I witnessed a baby boy, once abandoned, now lavishly loved by a family who traveled around the world to get him. In fact, four of the children who visited my home were adopted -- all of them little miracles, testimonies to love, the most powerful force in the universe.
Isn't it sad that with all the great stories out there, it is appearances that our culture seems to value most? Magazines at the checkout counter alone supply sufficient evidence that Americans place enormous value on appearances. But the Bible says, "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
This week may we strive to look at the heart too. May we remember that each and every person was made in the image of God, deserving honor and respect. May we look past outward appearances, possessions and titles, and take time to listen the stories that God is writing in each life.