We live in a day of much competition for our time and resources. We make choices in the dedication of our hours and belongings. What will we do with our time? How will we use our resources? For who will we make room in our homes and in our lives?
When I was serving as a missionary in Paraguay during the 1980s I was struck by the generosity of the Paraguayan (Guarani) people. It seemed that almost anywhere we traveled, whether somebody wanted to hear our message from Jesus Christ or not, they were always ready to sit with us and quench our thirst with hot maté in the cooler months, and refreshing tereré when it was warm. More often than not meals were offered, a place to stay cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and care was taken for us young messengers of the gospel so far from home and away from our mothers and fathers. We believed, and rightfully so, that we were representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ and on His errand, and although not everyone we met necessarily agreed with the message, they at least seemed to recognize that we represented a higher power and were worthy of their generosity and care.
Only from my daily journals could I chronicle even a small portion of the many kind deeds done for this servant of the Lord and my companions while I lived among the people of Paraguay, but I would like to share one particular experience. My reading in the Old Testament Second Book of the Kings this last week aroused this memory.
I served in the small city of Luque for seven months from January to August 1984. I met such kind and generous people throughout my service in that beloved place. The community seemed to be permeated with the spirit of brotherly love, and towards God and His humble servants. One family that I came to regard as particularly representative of this brotherly love and kindness was the Familia Cabral.
Seve and Anastacio, with their daughter Zuni, were well regarded among elders and sisters in Paraguay for providing a loving homelike atmosphere for the missionaries who visited. We called Seve ‘Mamá,’ Anastacio was like a father to us, and Zuni, everyone’s younger sister. I was made to feel much comfort, joy and peace when within the walls of their home. They were always providing service in some way, not as servants, but as brothers and sisters in Christ, always giving, always loving. There was ever a cooling or warming beverage at the ready when we came walking down their street, whether it was to share a message or to receive a needed respite. I do not know how it was for every missionary, I do not know their minds or hearts, but I have come to regard the Cabral home and family as my own, with all the love and righteous yearning of my heart.
Near the end of my missionary service I was called away from my beloved Luque to provide service elsewhere. It was so hard to leave, but we go where the Lord beckons us. I had a couple of occasions in the months that followed before my return to the United States to visit the Cabrals and for them to visit me.
During one such visit to their home I noticed some remodeling and construction taking place. They were adding additional space to their home. They told me with some emotion, which also stirred me, that they were adding a room to their home they called Elder Malcolm’s room, so that I would have a place to stay if I ever returned. I have rarely been so touched and so moved by a gesture of such generosity, kindness, faithfulness and love, as was I with their’s. I know it was not simply me they were serving, they were offering the best they had to the Lord’s servant, as they ever have.
In ancient Israel there lived a great woman in Shunem. When she saw Elisha the Prophet passing through her town she insisted he come into her home to provide bread for him. The scripture reads as follows:
“Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, ‘Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.’ And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there” (2 Kings 4:8-11).
Are we making room for the Lord’s servants in our homes and lives? More importantly, are we making room in our homes and lives for the Lord?
It may not be a simple or even needed thing to provide or dedicate a room and bed for the Lord’s representatives when they are passing by, but it is imperative that we make room for the Savior in all aspects of the lives we live.
One of the best ways we can do this is to try to do all things unto the Lord. This seems complicated, maybe impossible, but with faith in the Savior, and a desire to try and to accept His grace in our weakness all things are possible and there is redemption.
We can eat to the Lord when we pray with thanksgiving over a meal, or share our table. We can work and labor to the Lord when we keep the Sabbath Day holy and tithe on our increase. We can sing to the Lord when there is praise on our lips, but also sing praiseworthy words, not religious only, but uplifting always. We can love in the Lord when we love in pure heartedness, hands chaste and actions in accordance with Heavenly Father’s law, love worthy of the children of God.
Culturally we can live unto the Lord. We can dance to the Lord when we dance in appropriate ways, keeping the law of chastity, leaving room for the Holy Ghost, so to speak, and praiseworthy also. We can be entertained unto the Lord when looking only upon screens containing art that uplifts, nothing vile or degrading. We can party unto the Lord when we include, open doors and hearts, inviting all who would be friends in fellowship, with sober gladness and upright joy.
We can live unto the Lord in our homes and families when our prayers lift heavenward as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, together and alone, quietly on bended knees. Our communications can be kindly and soft, with no mal intent, with love unfeigned, and persuasions only for the common good, centered not on self but on the whole. Our homes can be filled with joyous and respectful laughter. Outreached hands and arms opened can comfort as He would comfort, love as He would love, dry the tears of heartache, and replace sorrowing eyes with bright smiling light.
We can make room in our lives for the Lord. Even as the great woman of Shunem and her good husband made place in their home for the Prophet Elisha, as the Cabrals made room for this poor servant amidst their loving family, so we all should make room. We should make room in our homes, in our labors, in our fun, in all our activities, in our love, in our hearts, and in our lives for the Lord. We must make room in our lives for the Lord.
May there always be place in our homes for those He sends, and in our lives for the Lord our God, He whose invitation is ever extended, that we might know the joy of His love and comfort. If we make room in our lives He will come, He will sup with us, for as the Lord has said, “…if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Let us go about making room in our homes and in our hearts. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.