Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who Are Our Neighbors?

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
John 14:2

When we were in China in March of 2006, we visited the orphanage where our babies had spent their first two years. This baby had tracked me around the room with her eyes. I finally went over to the crib and put my hand in. She grabbed my finger and held tightly. I asked our guide to ask the nannie if I could hold her. I was given permission. This precious baby snuggled into my shoulder and stayed that way for quite a while. I carried her around as she slowly but surely stole my heart. Later Howard told me that we should have just run and worried about the consequenses later. Before we ever left China he asked me if I thought we could go back one more time.

Those plans were permanently erased when in early October of 2006 I was first diagnosed with colon cancer. Word spread quickly. Alice was the first person on my doorstep. She brought her homemade vegetable soup and her love to us. That began a quick outpouring of support from the community and most of all our church.

A couple of weeks ago it was Alice's turn to need the love and support of friends and family. I didn't know till after the fact. She was two states away at the time. She received excellent care and praises to our God are in order for the good news.

But it bothered me greatly that so often we don't know about our friends and fellow church goers until after the fact. Yes, God knows, but how many opportunities to be of service to each other have slipped by us before we even know it?

On my street alone there are several families with very large needs. One of them has a broken leg. I didn't know till weeks later. Our world has in so many ways become so small, particularly with the wide spread use of the internet. But we don't know our local neighbors needs. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we hardly even know our neighbors needs so many times.

My friend Tina faces a long recovery from an unlikely illness. She is half a country away from me. How do I serve this neighbor? Carla in Oklahoma has an incredible burden of being pregnant, mom of eight chldren whose husband was recently paralyzed in a traffic accident. How do I serve Carla and her family so far away? My dear friend Cindy is facing huge rages of the storms in her life with little end in sight. How can I serve her, eight hours away in Atlanta?

We know that God goes before us and there are no surprises to Him. He has gotten to the scene before we even know it's coming. But as the body of Christ we are called to serve each other for Him.

Sunday, our next door neighbor, Dennis died. I had mentioned him several times here. He is no longer in pain; there is no more sickness for him and no more of the dreaded needles he hated so much. He is at last at peace and likely enjoying his first few days with Jesus. His fammily is not so lucky and that is where my grief lies. They have to stay here in the not so perfect world in which we live. In the blink of an eye in eternity they will join their husband of 33 years, their daddy, their son, their brother. But our clock on earth moves so much more slowly. And we on the fringes of their grief wonder how best to serve our neighbors.

Perhaps we cannot serve all our neighbors. But there are neighbors we can serve. The opportunities abound in our ordinary daily lives. I wonder how often I've been preoccupied and missed an opportunity to let someone in during heavy traffic, how often have I failed to hand a stranger a five dollar bill who came up short in the grocery store, how many of the homeless have I passed that I did not buy a meal for? What about the lonely woman who just wanted to talk? Was I too hurried in my life to make a minute to affirm her worth? Were there simply words of encouragement I could have offerred to the cashier who just had a customer who reduced her to tears?

I can't even count the number of people who have stepped up to help us in the past 2 1/2 years. I regret deeply that I didn't know Dennis better. Over the last few days his wife and children have been beseiged with stories of his service to his neighbors. Over and over again people have shared the little and the not so little stories of his service to others. Repeatedly people have told his wife stories of times that they were down and out and Dennis would fix their cars for them at no charge, telling them simply to pay him when they could.

Someone told his wife that had everyone paid Dennis that they would be living in a mansion. She and I smiled at each other. For today Dennis lives in a mansion.


Jackie Wilkerson said...

Hey Cindy,
What a beautiful writer you are! Your posts are always so special; even when you're feeling yucky. I hope you are feeling better now. Your children were so precious when I saw them Tuesday. What sweet, polite, and well-mannered children! May I bring you two more? Ha! Hope you have a nice weekend and I am sorry for the recent loss of your neighbor. Tell Howard hello. Love, Jackie

EbethW said...

Only you could have put it so well. Cindy, you are such a deep and profound person, and so full of wisdom!

Thank you for writing, sharing, and just being.

Your 3-doors down neighbor

Tiffany said...

Mama, I am sitting here in amazement at the fact that you yourself are suffering from the same illness as Mr. Buck, and you are still in the service mindset. I admire you so much and hope and pray that I would be like you and mold myself after you in hopes that I might be half the wife and mother you are. I love you.


Mom Of Many said...

I have been behind on reading my friend's blogs. I just caught up. I am sorry your port was/is giving you such hassles.

Your writing is full of such wisdom. Wisdom from spending time with Jesus and and letting Him make you more like Him. You are such a blessing.

Thank you for telling us about the families you know of in need. There is such grief around us. May we be continually reminded to reach out and walk a mile in someone elses moccasins by tangibly loving them.

I wish you were nearby so we could get together. I would love to spend time with you. Praying for you from Colorado....

Much love, Linny

Jill said...

Such a sweet post and OH SO TRUE...thank you for the reminder to NOT MISS an opportunity to SERVE others for Jesus!

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