This week I’m at one of my favorite places in the world. Mapleridge Ranch is located in the Southern Tier of New York. It’s a summer camp located on over 200 acres and even in the summer the weather is just right! Since our friends run the camp, my husband gets asked to be a speaker once a summer usually. We get to stay in the guest house and the schedule is super relaxed. It feels like home away from home. Our friends perfectly balance giving us the space and freedom to relax and including us in all the opportunities camp provides. The guest house is cozy and warm, the coffee is serve yourself anytime, and naps are always supported! It is the essence of hospitality!
I wish everyone could experience this place. That’s not possible, but it IS possible to extend the essence of this place to anywhere we are. I think the thing that best sums up this place is the way they hold this place with open hands. They recognize God’s favor and would never for a second say that this home is “theirs.” This recognition that, even though they live here every summer, this home and camp is ultimately God’s allows them to live with open hands. We too should live with open hands.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Psalm 89:11 also repeats this theme. When we let this truth plant deep within us, we recognize that it isn’t just a figure of speech. The entire earth is literally his. See, my children refer to our minivan as their car. They call our home their house. They call our neighborhood pool their pool. The truth of the matter is, they don’t own any of it. On a grander scale, we don’t own it either. This earth is not our home and the things we have are all gifts from our Father above (James 1:17).
Have you ever noticed it’s easier to spend someone else’s money? You give me $200 dollars to go on a shopping spree and I can buy all the things! Ask me to spend my own $200 and I’m going to be a lot more particular about what I buy. That caution is great with spending but terrible for hospitality. We can’t lavish love and pursue open-handed living when we’re controlled by a sense of caution and concern about what could happen. Reckless abandon is terrible for safety or in regards to finances; however, it is essential in regards to hospitality. Acknowledging that our time, our space, our idea of family, & our possessions are not ours at all enables us to have a reckless abandon in loving freely. Instead of keeping it to ourselves, we begin to want to bring others in to experience all we have to offer - whether its lavish or average.
Mapleridge is a beautiful space with plans to expand over the next few years and bring in even more campers each summer. As our friends run this place with open hands, they are seeing God continuously lavish more and more favor. That’s not to say that everything is rosy and without troubles. Anything amazing has endured trials as well. However, as they pursue what God desires for this space, freely invite others in, and intentionally love every single person who steps foot on this property they are living out a life of biblical hospitality. Mapleridge feels like home away from home. It reminds me to make my life on this earth a home away from home. I want my life to point people to Jesus regularly through intentional hospitality - I want to live with open hands.