The Lord answered a very specific prayer of mine in June. I have lived in the same house just a mile from church for 4 summers now. I knew the names of the neighbors on either side and across the street for both the kind of reasons you’re glad for and the ones that aren’t so pleasant. A tree fell down from our yard into Meg’s within months of moving in… whoops! The other side are delightful church members. Across the street, we met them when they were moving in and we were outside taking pictures before heading to the hospital to have our son.
And that’s about it, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t know the kids that circled our driveway. I didn’t know the names of the folks with the annoying dogs. I didn’t know the ones that weekly had a sheriff visit. I didn’t know the name of the woman that always shouted at us to slow down (we’re only going 10 mph!!).
So I decided a lot of things about those people, and I didn’t like my judgmentalism either.
I asked Jesus to help me meet my neighbors. And so while there seemed to be NO occasion to know them in the last 4 years, now I know all 10 in our cul-de-sac. Rachel Toone talked about Samaria this past week, and perhaps in a way I had treated all those neighbors like Samaritans. Not quite close enough to know them, but close enough to know I probably wouldn’t like them. And I was dead wrong with all those judgments.
I have neighbors with deep stories— stories of redemptive remarriages and God’s supernatural saving from a fire. I am learning about what it looks like to work in the Washington Correctional Center for Women. I’m sitting in the suffering of infertility with a neighbor.
God answered that prayer within weeks of me asking. And by just getting outside in this beautiful season that we’re in, I’m learning what Rachel was talking about this Sunday. God has uniquely placed me here in this cul-de-sac. And only 3 of you live in this cove with me. So I am the one privileged to know these stories.
God placed you in a unique place, too. Your pastors don’t live there with you. Your LifeGroup probably doesn’t either. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know how their relationship with God is? Do you know why it’s not good if it’s not? As Rachel said, most “evangelistic atheists” she’s met usually have a good reason for being so.
Please— get outside. Get outside and pray and ask Jesus just to know your neighbors. It turns out, they come outside, too. And however long you’ve been writing stories about who they are and what their story is by watching them come and go and despite the awkward moments (what’s your name again?), there are some delightful surprises to be had in Samaria. Don’t miss out on your unique life.
P.S. If any of them are music fans or are curious about God, invite them to come with you to HOPE253! It’s this Sunday. Seize this moment. It’s all free at 6:00 at the Tacoma Dome.