I met Amy at She Speaks, Proverbs 31’s Speaker and Writer conference. We participated on the same speaking group and I instantly loved her heart… and the passion behind her unique ministry. You’ll be inspired by her testimony. She is graciously offering a copy of her awesome book “How to Love Your Neighbor” to one of our readers. Just comment on this blog and we will enter your name for the Giveaway. We’ll announce the winner next week. Enjoy!
Stop Praying for Your Neighbors
Sitting on my big comfy couch looking across my neighbors’ well-manicured lawns, I prayed earnestly for the people living around me.
It was obvious they didn’t know Jesus. One neighbor didn’t answer the door when I delivered a welcome basket. Another played with annoying radio-controlled cars at all hours of the night, and cussed at their children. They let their dogs do their business in my yard. They drove too fast. I didn’t like the color they painted their door.
In pious agreement with Jesus’ words in Luke 10:2, I prayed, “The harvest is great—oh, so great! Don’t You see how they are, Lord? But the workers are few; no one is doing anything about it! Oh Lord, please send more workers into Your fields!”
Someone needed work alright – but it wasn’t my neighbors. It was me.
“For years I made assumptions about the people living inside the homes in my neighborhood based on what I saw outside. I assumed they were comfy and cozy based on their tidy lawns and neat hedges. I assumed they were irresponsible and uncaring based on their barking dogs or weedy sidewalks. I assumed they were sacrilegious and unsaved based on the cars in their driveways on Sunday mornings.”
How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird
In spite of my self-righteous assumptions, God answered my prayers for my neighbors… I just wasn’t quite prepared for His response. I found it in the very next verse, Luke 10:3—
Jesus said, “Now, go! I am sending you.”
Ahem? Excuse me? Did you mean… me?
“Surely, Lord, You aren’t asking little ol’ me to venture out of my living room into the vast unknown of my neighborhood! Isn’t that what trained evangelists and professional preachers do? That’s not what stay-at-home moms and business owners, nurses and teachers and sales clerks and every day, ordinary people like me do! I just want to meet my neighbors, Lord. Just give me an opportunity to meet them. Make them get a flat tire in front of my house or blow their newspaper into my yard… You can do that, can’t You?”
So then He said,
“Ahem? Excuse me? Did you wake up this morning with breath in your lungs and a heart beating in your chest? Did I choose your home within 100 yards of your neighbor’s door? You’re alive and you live next door, what more would you like me to do? Now, stop praying and go.”
And so I went. I never stopped praying, but I prayed with my boots on. I prayed while I wrote out an invitation for coffee, I prayed while I knocked on their doors, I prayed when I cleaned my house, and I prayed when it was their turn to knock on my door.
And I prayed when they left—but this time, it was a prayer of joyful praise instead of fearful excuses. It was a prayer of thanks for the kind women I met, the friends I made and the security we found in our community.
Only in obedience did I realize
I was the answer to my own prayer.
Amy Lively is a speaker and the author of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird (Bethany House, May 2015). She provides tips and tools for Christ’s #2 command drawing from her own experience knocking on her neighbors’ doors and leading a women’s neighborhood Bible study called The Neighborhood Cafe. Amy lives in Lancaster, Ohio with her husband, their daughter, a holy dog and an unsaintly cat. Learn more at howtoloveyourneighbor.com.