I’m thrilled to have Shelly Miller join us today. Shelly is a dear friend, author, and Sabbath keeper. Last fall, Shelly joined me at the Turquoise Table where we chatted about the connection between having a Sabbath heart and practicing the gift of hospitality. Rest and hospitality go hand in hand, but sometimes that can feel counterintuitive.
Shelly, who lives in London, invites us into a story that takes place on a street lined with chandeliers and illustrates the blessing that comes when we open ourselves to hospitality through a Sabbath heart.
Chandeliers hang from the sky in Belgravia.
As I look up from Google Maps on my phone, the surprising discovery from the street corner interrupts assessments. It turns out, glamourous lighting is the least surprising detail I notice once I reach my destination at a café in London.
“What do you want? They have great pastries here,” the young woman I’m meeting asks before I sit down.
“Black tea with soy milk,” I reply while unwrapping the scarf around my neck.
“And here, let me give this to you now and keep the change,” she insists while pushing pounds into my palm.
From the red bag hanging over my shoulder and resting on my hip, I pull out four copies of Rhythms of Rest and lay them on her side of the small table.
A few weeks earlier, MJ was in the audience when I spoke at her church. Shortly after, an email slipped into my inbox requesting more. More books. More speaking for an upcoming event. We’re meeting about the details.
She slips inside to order drinks and I nestle into the empty chair opposite and diagonal to a woman eating a bowl of yogurt; three Jack Russell pups leashed underneath her bench seat.
“They’re waiting for you to drop some crumbs,” I jest, leaning in and garnering eye contact.
She smiles and we engage in small talk. Five minutes later, MJ returns and we learn the stranger’s name is Claire, she has a family of six Jack Russells and was recently diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Rest, it turns out, is part of the prescription for achieving wellness.
MJ gifts her one of the books I carried on the tube and walked through Chelsea, past pristine houses decked with window boxes containing profuse red cyclamen. Claire extends the book in my direction and asks for a signature as plates of warm almond croissants are placed in front of us.
It doesn’t take long to get past facades when you approach relationships from a Sabbath heart.
While creating an atmosphere of welcome we can easily forget about the atmosphere of our soul. We assume doing good is within our control and forget that everything good begins with knowing God.
Rest in God, then invite people into the overflow of love He pours out.
Tea and milk are poured into cups and I think about how I was counting the cost before counting on God. Forty minutes each way on the tube to reach the street decorated with chandeliers. And I have dirty sheets, expected guests, and grocery lists waiting to be checked off.
An extravagant waste of time can sometimes be the most productive action we choose. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Before you plan a menu, prepare the atmosphere for an event, or produce yummy snacks, snatch some time and make it different by abiding with Jesus in Sabbath.
Rest transforms a monologue in the mind to a dialogue with the Creator, leading you from perfecting a table scape to sitting at a café table with strangers instead.
Hospitality is an investment in relationships – with people, not your stuff or food. But only invest in others and good intentions eventually produce meaningless outcomes.
The way to make time hospitable is to become a hospital for time. You cannot extend compassion toward others if you neglect to extend compassion to yourself first.
Sabbath reminds us that Jesus is always the first friend we welcome into the room. And he wants you at the table with Him, not some version of Martha Stewart.
We create space for others and God longs to inhabit space within our heart first. Like a beautiful chandelier hanging over your mundane life, Sabbath rest surprises and makes the heart swoon for more of Him.
Making time different through Sabbath makes hospitality more meaningful and a lot less work.
Shelly Miller is a veteran ministry leader and sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping. She leads the Sabbath Society, an online community of people who want to make rest a priority, and her writing has been featured in multiple national publications. Her first book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, released with Bethany House Publishers in October of 2016 and a second launches in 2017 with Lion Hudson. Find more of Shelly’s writing on her blog, Redemptions Beauty, and connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where she loves to share photos of the beautiful places she visits while living as a committed immigrant in London.