The Uninvited Guest

We had just finished our Thanksgiving feast when there came a knock at the door. My family was in Indiana visiting relatives for the holiday, and I ran from the dinner table to answer the door. Swinging open the door, I found a woman wearing a big old threadbare coat with a raggedy scarf. Her gloves were mismatched and her hat had a hole in it. Her skin was scaly and dry, and her eyes drooped, and her wrinkled mouth spoke.

"I know your grandmother," she said. "Is she here?"

"No, she isn't," I answered.

"Last summer I did some yard work for her, and she paid me," the woman announced. "I'm homeless, and I'm very hungry. Do you have any spare money?"

"Please come in and wait here," I suggested. Leaving her at the front door, I sprinted to the bedroom and grabbed my purse. I returned to hand her a $10 bill. Tears streamed down her face as she hugged me.

"Thank you," she mumbled. While I was wrapped in her arms, the memory of a recent sermon flashed through my mind. At a camp meeting one of the speakers disguised himself as a beggar and mingled with the camp meeting staff during the course of the week. Because he was painful to see and offensive to smell, the attendants mistreated the beggar and fled from his odor. Revealing himself at the end of the week, the speaker preached a sermon based on Matthew 25:34, 35: "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in'" (NKJV).

Seeing the old woman as my opportunity to do something for my Lord, I excitedly offered her some of our recent meal. We still had a whole table spread with food, and she had none. Leading her into the kitchen, where my relatives still lounged lazily with full bellies, I seated her at the table and began preparing her plate.

"Do you like potatoes?" I asked. "Would you like a roll? One or two?" As I worked I noticed the room emptying. One by one my relatives slipped into the living room. Soon my guest and I were the only ones in the kitchen.

Wanting her to feel comfortable, I began to ask her questions to get to know her. "What's your name? Where are you from? What was your last job? Where is your family? Do you like pumpkin pie?" We talked while she ate.

When she finished, she stood up, put on her old coat, hat, scarf, and mismatched gloves. "Thank you so very much. I haven't eaten in days. Thank you. My father used to say that when he was a child he could remember being so hungry that he couldn't see. I didn't understand that until I was much older. Thank you for returning my sight."

After-Dinner Entertainment

I ushered the woman to the door and waved goodbye. Closing the door, I turned to face my family, turned jury. The verdict was guilty. "How could you do that?" asked my aunt. "She could have been a scout for robbers!" screeched a cousin. "This neighborhood isn't what it used to be!" added my older sister. "You don't let strangers into your grandmother's home!" joined in another relative. The inquisition continued until tears streamed down my face and I fled from the room.

Exactly one year later, Thanksgiving found us again celebrating in my grandmother's home. After another banquet my sister Kay and I stood at the sink washing dishes. "Do you remember the homeless woman who came to our house last year, Mary?" asked Kay.

"Yes," was all I said, not wanting to dredge up terrible memories.

"Wouldn't it be funny if she came again?"

No, I thought to myself. It wouldn't be funny, not at all. Minutes later, from the kitchen window, we spotted this same woman returning to our house. This time, instead of running to the front door, I ran into the bedroom to hide. I didn't want the woman to see me, and I wasn't willing to risk my family's anger again by helping her.

Instead, Kay answered the door. "Hello. No, I'm sorry, but we don't have any money. Goodbye."

Time of Trouble? Nine years have passed, but I still vividly remember that Thanksgiving Day when my family's reproaches overcame my desire to serve God by helping that poor woman.

In my first encounter with the woman I energetically reacted to the message of a recent sermon. But rather than face the family jury again, I hid instead of helping her. My experience withered like the plants in Jesus' parable of the seed and the soil (Matt. 13:3-9) because the roots weren't deep enough.

A time will come when all our roots will be tested. Jesus described the persecution of the end of time: "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony" (Luke 21:12,13, NKJV).

When we are tested, will we stand up for what is right or shrink from potential pain? Will our beliefs have strong roots or shallow? Let's prepare our hearts to be fertile ground with deep roots. Let's be ready to stand up for life's uninvited guests.

Mary Mullins, a former student missionary in South Korea, now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. She hopes to pursue a career in international development.

[ By Mary Mullins, Source: Adventist Review -- Submitted by Nancy Simpson, via 'WIT and WISDOM' ]


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