Host a Fellow? Absolutely not. No way.
If you had told me one year ago that in one year we would be wrapping up our first year as a host family for the Nashville Fellow's Program, I would have had a look of shock and disbelief. I would have argued that, like everyone else, we are just plain too busy...with jobs, with three kids, with other obligations to commit to something like that. And, we just don't have the physical space. Yes, we have a “guest” room, but that is what it is for...guests. So, no, we just can't invite a recent college grad into our home...full time...for almost a year. Absolutely not. No way. Not that we wouldn't want to, of course, but there are just limits to what we are able to do.
That would have been my response, but thankfully, God wasn't interested in our perceived limits. He knew that we could be pushed beyond them because most of the time in my case, and I wonder in how many others, we set our “limits” way too low. We are quick to sell ourselves short and never really grasp the full power that God can wield in our lives if we would just be willing to be stretched beyond what seems “reasonable” or “doable.” We have all heard, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” but how many of us really live like we believe that...all the time...in all situations. I don't. I am very quick to make excuses for why I can't do something from ordinary, day-to-day things to extraordinary things that demand moving outside of my comfort zone. The list is probably endless... I'm not capable of leading that group; I'm too busy to offer to help a friend who needs childcare today; It will cost too much to go on that missions trip and be to awkward to raise support; I can't take my family to that neighborhood to serve. So, I find ways to serve that fit my limits. Things that I can make time for. Things that I am comfortable with. Things that I enjoy doing. Giving my life away but only within the parameters that I deemed appropriate and accomplishable. That counts, right?
Yes, that “counts”, but what does it leave out? How am I limiting the advancement of His Kingdom when I allow my own limits to dictate my actions? How would our year have been different if we had not responded to the nudge the Holy Spirit gave us to move beyond those limits? I remember the moment sitting in worship and hearing yet another announcement that host families were needed for Fellows when it suddenly became clear that my tally sheet of reasons we said “no” didn't really add up anymore. So, we said yes...with very little discussion (which is pretty unusual in our household). And a Fellow came to live with us last August. And I think that it was one of the best things we have ever done as a family. We were immeasurably blessed not only by the Fellow who lived with us but by the whole class of Fellows that we were able to meet and support during the year. Was it hard? uncomfortable? awkward? Yes, at times. But it was also joyous, stimulating, and rewarding. We provided a landing place, albeit sometimes a fairly chaotic one, for a recent college grad who had well exceeded her “limits” by committing to a year dedicated to stretching her faith and growing in her ability to work for God’s Kingdom. Our whole family developed relationships with a group of young people who put aside the worldly demands on college graduates to get the right job, start earning the right income, and begin building the right career and prioritized their roles as disciples of Christ. Is there a better example we could have placed in front of our children? In front of ourselves?
Looking back, I am grateful that God pushed us to exceed those limits. My prayer is that this won’t be an isolated example that we look back on and refer to as that one-time experiment with God’s power in our lives. I pray that this becomes a routine for our family…to step beyond those limits on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. To move beyond what is normal and comfortable and to embrace what is demanding, inconvenient, and even unfathomable. It is there that true faith lives and flourishes and where God touches our lives and the lives of those around us to the core.