Let me just start right off by saying that the stick-figure craziness is a little . . . well out of control. But, I figured I’d jump on the band wagon with a custom version of this little fad for today’s blog. For many years, I’ve grown up hearing the about the love commandments from Jesus found in Mark 12:30-31. When asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus answers by referencing old testament scriptures (Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18) when he said, paraphrased . . . Love God with everything and Love your neighbor as yourself. That second quoted commandment is what I want to dive into today.
This past Friday and Saturday, we were hit with “winter storm Jonas” and it had a pretty significant impact on our area. If you were on my block, you didn’t drive anywhere until late Saturday afternoon simply because of the 18 or so inches and no plow trucks available down our one-way street. I got up on the morning, got Jax and I breakfast and around 9:00am, went to work shoveling and snow-blowing. What’s this have to do with “loving your neighbor” you may ask? Well, in this process several of my friends on the block came out to do the same. At first, everyone was primarily taking care of their sidewalk, their own cars, drive ways . . . etc. Even though it was still snowing, at one point I felt I had done most of my area and was just waiting until the plow came down the road to allow for cars to get through. But since I was already dressed and snow covered, I started to remove snow from my next door neighbors walk. You see, this house was bought in October by a young lady and her sister who lived with their parents about 45 minutes away from here. The two of them, their father and some friends have been working hard for months on renovating this house. Seriously . . . almost nightly for months. So I thought I’m sure when they come today to work on the house, they don’t want to have to shovel a few hours just to get into their home. So I started on the walk and my other neighbor on the other side of their house follow suit and started to use his snow blower on the other side of their walk. Soon, my good friend Gary from across the street, came over and with his power-house snow blower took care of over half the drive way. So when we were finished, they had virtually nothing to do when they got their. A little while later, she came with her boyfriend expecting to be shoveling for the next few hours. I was outside and the one owner almost came running to my house asking if I did this. I said, well several of us did. She just couldn’t stop thanking me and offering some sort of payment or gift but I said, “that’s what neighbors do.” We take care of each other. A little while later, she made a b-line for Gary and said something very similar to him.
Also during the day, a neighbor a few doors down was outside working as well. He and his young boy were shoveling and shoveling. As I finished my area and my next-door neighbor’s, he asked if he could use my snow blower for a few minutes and I gladly responded, of course. As he was using it, I went to the garage, got the container of gas and said to him, use it as long as you need to. Here’s some extra gas if it’s needed. A short while later, he comes over to my house thanking me repeatedly, trying to hand me some money for the gas used. I said no, keep your money, “that’s what neighbors do.” By the end of the afternoon, most of our block was cleaned out because several people put this principle into practice. For me, it was easy to do this because I used to see and still see my dad doing this exact type of thing for his neighbors. So, for me, it was a natural response to help neighbors in need.
Once early evening came, the city plow finally made it down our street and all the snow they moved from the middle now was piled up against our cars and front of our drive-way. Our neighborhood crew made it back out and started to clear away that snow pile. Although, this time something changed. I moved my cars into our drive way but there was such a thick and big pile up at the end of my drive way that my snow blower was really struggling to get through it. My good friend Gary, I mentioned before, comes over with his monster snow-blower and says, “I’ll takes care of the big pile while you remove the smaller piles.” I believe I can speak for Gary (because he is a man of God and I know his character) and I can say his motivation was, “that’s what neighbors do.”
At the end of the day, I was thanking God for my neighbors. Those who I was able to help and those who helped me. You see, I believe what you just read is this principle in practice. Many people may read, hear or even quote scriptures without an understanding of what that looks like to be carried out in the real life. For me, I experienced this on both ends that day. I ended the day with such delight because of how God used me to bless my neighbors. Even though I was physically exhausted, I was emotionally and spiritually invigorated because of God’s goodness.
Allow me to close this blog post out with a challenge. What do you already have in your garage, cupboards or otherwise that can bless your neighbors? How can you show God’s love to your block? I will admit, I don’t always do this well, but this week, I had the privilege to to be a part of seeing this principle carried out by several neighborhood men. I look forward to the opportunities for future ministry to my neighbors. Shelley Ave in Altoona is blessed.