“…I was a stranger and you invited me in.” ~Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
A little over five years ago, my husband and I moved to a new city. To say the move was hard for me would be a gross understatement. I knew with every fiber in me that this new home was where God had called us to be, but I had made friendships so meaningful that my heart hurt just thinking about leaving them behind. I was known. These friends knew every success I had experienced and every scar I had acquired during my twenties. They knew the difference between my “I am hurting but don’t know how to talk about it” smile and my everyday “I love life” smile. They saw every flaw I tried to hide, like my penchant for being 15 minutes late all the time. But above all, they knew my heart. I was loved. In my new home, I was starting from scratch, a complete and total stranger to all who passed by. I went from being “friend” to “stranger” in an instant.
I had forgotten how lonely it felt to walk into a room full of people and not have a single person really know you. I dreaded the conversations that began with the superficial “How are you doing today?” and ended even more painfully when I or the other person ran out of things to say. I dearly longed for just one person to truly see me, to see my worth and take that courageous leap and get to know a stranger. To get to know me. I longed to dive deep, invest, create community, to know and once again be known. But this time around, this move, it wasn’t coming easily. God had a few things to teach me before my new community would be built and my heart could be known again.
I had to learn what it was like to feel alone, left out, and unknown, so I could cultivate genuine compassion for the forgotten, for the “strangers” along my own path. I needed to feel the deep ache of loneliness to recognize, to truly see it in another’s face. The scar of that ache now propels me into action when I see it reflected back at me.
I had to learn to give oodles and oodles of genuine grace to those who were too busy for a coffee date or a quick chat with the “new girl.” Those rejections taught me that someone’s lack of time for me did not diminish my worth, or theirs, in God’s eyes. It taught me to look past the surface of these situations and lean on God’s truth, not my own.
Every closed door was a gift from God, teaching me to love His way and to purify my heart and intentions.
I had to hunger and thirst for the very things I had already had in abundance to be reminded what a blessing it is when someone takes a chance and invites you into their heart and their home. I never truly knew how soul-filling a cup of tea could be until a new friend filled my empty cup and had the courage to ask me more than how my day was going.
Now, five years later, God has shown me both the beauty and power in welcoming a stranger.
The beauty in welcoming a stranger is in the unknown and unending possibilities of what we might learn from them. The power comes from knowing that to fully tap into those limitless possibilities, we must be courageous, take a chance, invest a part of ourselves, and invite someone in.
As you read this, both you and I are gathered together here at God’s glorious table. We entered as strangers, but I would love for us to take that wild and courageous leap and become friends. Let us serve each other plates filled with God’s love, toast each other with glasses brimming with God’s grace, and keep our hearts and doors open to the next beautiful stranger God places in our path.
Lord, I pray that each woman reading this would feel abundantly blessed and deeply known by you today. May her hunger be satisfied with your Word, her thirst quenched with your Truth, and may she know that even when this world is filled with closed doors, you are always waiting to invite her into your heart and home, to rest at your glorious table.
Scripture for Reflection
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35 NIV)
Reach for More
This is our first weekly devotion together, so I will explain what Reach for More is all about. Here at The Glorious Table, you are welcome to come in, sit down, relax, and stay as long as you like. Partake in as much “daily bread” as you desire. Nothing more is required. However, it is our sincere hope that each visit to our table inspires you to feed those around you as you have been fed. These weekly challenges are a chance to “do small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa once said.
This week, seek out a stranger and acknowledge her. This can be as small an act as paying a compliment to someone passing by or as big as inviting a new acquaintance over for tea. Dear friends, you can do this. Be courageous, and know that one small act of love is so much greater than none at all.
Please, come back and leave a comment telling us about how God spoke to you this week, or share your progress on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you.
Sarah Lundgren has a passion for all things sparkly, loves God with her whole heart, and is known to love Starbucks chai lattes a whole lot, too. Sarah is currently snuggled in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan with her sweet hubby, J, and her full-time job is making pretty things all day long for her Etsy business, so sarah designs, but she also loves writing devotional content here at The Glorious Table.
Photograph used with permission from, and copyright of, Michelle Lenger.