Jonathan was going to take the kids to his parents’ house for a little visit and I would have a few hours to myself to write. Several deadlines looming and very few “quiet hours” in a house with 3 kids made this into some much needed time alone. As I walked them out to the car, my across the street neighbor came over to our driveway to chat a minute. I kissed Jonathan, waved goodbye to the kiddos, and off they went. As my neighbor and I stood in my driveway on this unseasonably warm 68 degree day in February chatting about life, I thought to myself, “When is the last time I’ve done this? When is the last time we spoke face to face?” I was instantly ashamed at the fact that I couldn’t even remember. About that time, she actually looked at me and said, “I want to apologize for being a horrible neighbor. I haven’t been over to check on y’all or chat for the longest time.” I had to laugh and admit to her that I’d been thinking the same thing and apologized too. As we talked some more, I looked around my neighborhood and made mental notes on how many “neighbors” I hadn’t spoken to in ages and how many I had never spoken to at all in almost 9 years.
I’m not going to pretend I don’t know how that has happened. Life is busy and kids are busy and there are activities and school things and church things and job things. And there’s dinner and homework and laundry and cleaning and bath time and bed time and the list is endless. I mean I could go into Tucker’s closet alone and get lost and not resurface for 3 days or so. That place is a pit. But the point is, there are things. So many things. Things that demand our attention and our time and then there are things we chose to give our attention and time to as well.
We all have things.
But there are also people.
People we know. People we live near. People we do the school things and church things and job things with. People we don’t know. People we pass by - blissfully unaware of what is happening in their world because we’re so caught up in what’s happening in our own.
And friends, it is PEOPLE who the Lord has called us to. They are His work. They are His priority. And they ought to be ours. Hard as we may try, we won’t find a command from Jesus in scripture to love activities or things or to fill up all of our time and boast of our busyness. No. Because what Jesus knew, and what I’m learning, is that those things are temporary. And void of that which can truly satisfy. In fact, I’m discovering that sometimes my busiest seasons are my loneliest ones. Relationships are often sacrificed on the altar of our schedules and the demands of the day. We don’t lift our heads from our calendars and to-do lists long enough to look into the eyes of the people we pass. To see their needs. To hear their hearts. And we miss them. The very ones the Lord has placed in our path to see and to touch and to share His love with. We MISS them. And we need them. And they need us.
Oh that the Lord would do a work in our hearts and our lives and our schedules so that we would prioritize that and those which truly matter most to the Kingdom of God. Its about saved souls and transformed hearts. Its about schedules revamped for rest and relationships. Its about a timely text to a friend and a pan of brownies to your neighbor. Its about a prayer with stranger in the grocery store check out line. Its about setting deadlines aside and standing in your driveway catching up for over 2 hours until your bare feet are freezing because the 68 degree temps dropped with the sun. Its about People. His people. His children.
Let’s not let busyness distract us from those whom Christ deemed valuable enough to die for.
I stood and talked and laughed with my neighbor (and others who joined us) until it was too dark to see their faces and too cold to stand outside any longer. As I said goodbye and turned to walk back towards my house, I had to smile. I could sense the Lord shifting my heart towards His with this gentle reminder of what (and who) truly mattered and I couldn’t help but offer up a prayer of gratitude. My feet were cold, but my heart was warm and full.
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:27-29