“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.” -Nahum 1:7
My family and I were in church, sitting next to a group of people I didn’t recognize. They had just moved to Charlotte after Hurricane Katrina had wreaked havoc in New Orleans, including destroying their home and belongings. There were four of them, a lovely African American group worshiping God with their hands raised. (In our buttoned-up, non-charismatic Presbyterian church, we never saw this type of worshiping—never.) They had just lost everything, and here they were in search of a new home, a new direction, and a new group of friends in a strange town seeking to start over. And then I saw these people who were temporarily experiencing homelessness reach down into their pockets, pull out dollar bills, and place them in the offering plate that passed by. The joy on their faces as they gave in the midst of their crisis brought me to my knees.
After the service my family was introduced to theirs, and it was an instant friendship. I asked Darren, one of our newfound friends, what he needed. He said that he desperately wanted to cook. He had been a great cook in New Orleans and missed the opportunity to cook and have a nice meal.
We had just built a house with a fabulous kitchen, so I asked him over to cook a wonderful meal. We set the date for a few days out and prepared the guest list. Darren didn’t know it yet, but this was going to be a party with a purpose. Since the four New Orleans transplants had to start all over again, they needed everything from clothes to towels to pots and pans, pretty much everything we take for granted on a daily basis. So, unbeknownst to our new friends, each party guest was asked to bring something for their new home.
The day of the party, Darren and the other three arrived at my house, ready to cook. The entire house filled with the spicy aroma of Cajun jambalaya. When our guests arrived I was delighted at the generous, abundant gifts they brought. As our living room filled with piles of household goods, our friends from New Orleans couldn’t believe it. They were overwhelmed and filled with gratitude.
We all sat at the kitchen table and listened as our guests of honor shared stories of their journey in the midst of the storm. We laughed and we cried, and we prayed that God would go before them in a mighty way and provide for all their needs, acknowledging that He is our provider no matter what we might be going through. I’ve noticed throughout my life how magical things happen around a kitchen table, and this time something extra special was happening.
We concluded the evening with Darren playing the piano and singing. As I sat there listening to Darren’s thunderous voice belt out the words of songs that brought joy and glory to the Lord, I knew we were entertaining angels.
Anne Neilson sits down with James and Betty to discuss the inspiration behind her artwork this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Entertaining Angels by Anne Neilson. Copyright ©2022 by Anne Neilson. Published by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.