My husband’s father was in the hospital for a major surgery the other day, and we spent about 6 hours in the waiting room with several of his family members. If you’ve never been in a waiting room for that long, that space is a hard space to be in. People often don’t know what to say, or how to process their emotions in that space. Which got me thinking…how do we know when to speak… to offer words of grace and peace… and when not to? And then I read this beautiful passage in the book of Matthew that helped put some handles on it. It was Matthew 9:35-10:33. But very specifically, Matthew 10:11-14. It says,
“11Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.12As you enter the home, give it your greeting.13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
I think Jesus is essentially telling us – offer a greeting… and if there is response to the greeting it’s safe to start doing the work He calls us to – which is essentially, “wound cleaning”. By wound cleaning, I mean, tending to the state of the people you encounter. In spaces like the waiting room, there is emotional and spiritual brokenness. Someone they love is on the other side of the room in surgery, and they are worried, afraid, angry, and confused. In the waiting room space, it is our job as believers to hold that space with them – but only when they are willing to receive it. It’s not just in waiting rooms that you find the kind of brokenness that needs attending to though- it’s everywhere. It’s our neighbor. Our friend. Maybe even our spouse. But it’s only when our peace, or, our word, is accepted that we continue to do the work. Only the, do we speak grace and peace into them. We tell them the good news of Jesus. We offer hope.
Jesus tells us that the harvest is plenty but the workers are few – so even when our “peace is returned to us”, we have to shake off the dust and help the next one, because we are called, challenged, and gifted with the opportunity to be disciples. Essentially, Jesus is just telling his disciples in a new format the words of the great commission: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) I think that going to all nations means that some will be accepting, and some wont – because not all will accept what we have to say.
But the question remains – what exactly does “accepting peace” look like? Well, for me, I think it means someone who’s peace I’VE accepted. Are they someone I like to listen to? Are they someone I want to pour into me? Are they someone that I overall enjoy being around? If so, they likely will be someone who accepts the grace and peace that you have to offer.