Last week I told this story about my new next door neighbor lady moving in. Upon meeting my wife Linda, she started asking about removing the tree that sits on the property line between our homes. The large green Buddha necklace she wears is a clue that our beliefs are very different. We have been praying for the person who would move in for months since the woman who lived there before died and the family sold the house.
I stopped by our house to grab a book I had left at home yesterday and when I came out to get into the car, I noticed she was out on her front porch. So I ventured over to meet my new friend.
Just after exchanging names, she immediately launched into the reasons we should take out this large tree. Determined to have a good conversation, I told her that I would be taking care of half her yard when I clean up my side. When she heard the story of how we cared for the woman who lived there before her and as I explained that we were committed to loving our neighbors well, she softened.
As she explained that she had lost her husband a few years ago, she began to cry. Then she began to apologize for crying in front of me. I put my hand on her shoulder and told her that as a pastor I listened to people process their journey with tears most every day. It was a holy moment, imagined by God before the beginning of time. A moment that I was created to experience and be Jesus with skin on, so I can love my neighbor (Eph. 2:10). I was also relieved that the cat was out of the bag that I am a pastor and a follower of Jesus. It didn’t feel right to be an undercover Christian.
By the end of the 15 minute conversation she was telling me what her schedule was, when she was leaving town and looking forward to getting together again when she gets back from the Bay Area.
God is working. He has plans for my family to love her and show her the love and power of God in the days, months and years to come. This is the art of neighboring, this is exciting to see how God is moving and reaching out to people who He loves.
It doesn’t take hours and hours to love your neighbors, it usually is a matter of minutes and minutes scattered over days, weeks, months and even years. Adopting your block is really about your heart posture and openness to connect and engage with others nearby when windows of opportunity open. There are times that we initiate connection by borrowing and loaning tools, giving away extra homemade muffins and housesitting for neighbors who are away on vacation. We believe that God placed us in this neighborhood to be a light to others.
Do you believe that you were specifically placed in your home for a purpose? What will it look like for you to be a light in your neighborhood? Have you begun to ask God to highlight specific people for you to connect with around you? God is calling you to come and partner with the work He is already doing. Will you answer the call?