She lived nine doors down.
In the two years we’ve lived in this subdivision, I’d seen her on my walks.
Perhaps she was rolling her trash out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers.
I’d smile and said “hi”, just for a brief second.
After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy.
So I’d pop my Ipod earbuds back into my ears.
And I’d keep walking.
Nine doors down.
Just nine doors down this past week flashed lights and sirens and all things alarming.
A fire? I thought as I turned into my sub, returning from an errand-running venture.
My mama heart raced. My son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring?
Had a car caught fire or a power line fallen?
As my car crept closer to home, I saw it was not my house. Relief for my soul. And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of her house, no fire appeared to be blazing at my nine-doors down neighbor’s house either.
“Must have been a false alarm”, I reasoned to myself.
It was two days later when I heard the awful news.
No fire. No smoke. Just a saddened soul.
You see, nine doors down, something happened in the soul of my nameless, flower-watering, ‘smile and say hi’ fellow human being; something told her this life was not worth living anymore.
So she made sure she stopped living.
Her heart no longer beats.
Her flowers still grow, but she can’t water them anymore.
I can still walk by her house, lost in the Jesus-music blaring on my Ipod.
But there will be no more waves. No smiles as I stroll. And no more thoughts of, “I should stop and find out her name. I haven’t really met this gal yet.”
But the conversation my husband and I have had for the past year will continue. Perhaps with greater urgency now.
In our old neighborhoods (there have been three) we’ve made it a goal to offer a Bible study. A low-key, doesn’t-matter-if-you’ve-ever-gone-to-church-before, short and simple meeting of folks who all happen to live in the same development.
Todd does this at work too. Men and women meet on their breaks to gather round and meet Jesus. Many for the first time. Their curiosity is piqued when they are handed a flier announcing the short, you-don’t-need-to-know-nothing-”Jesus-y“-to-attend study.
Others in his factory throw the flier in the trash.
Yes, right after Todd hands it to them.
In our neighborhood, we’ve not yet passed out fliers. Is it too soon? We haven’t held a Christmas open house to meet everyone yet. We’ve baked bread and pulled weeds for those real near by. But haven’t struck a friendship with too many others.
So we’ve pondered, is it time?
And do we have time?
So far we’d answered no.
Now, nine doors down, no flier is needed for the single gal who is no more.
Would things have been different if she’d gotten an invitation? Or would she have rolled it out to the curb with the rest of her trash?
God only knows.
I cannot beat myself up; but I can do something.
So can you.
We can stop, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt, and rearrange our day.
We can go deeper; beyond a “hi!” to an authentic “Who are you?”
Will you do it?
Will you at least try?
Then, leave the results up to God.
Results are His job.
Obedience is ours.
And trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives as she lies lifelessly nearby in a coffin.
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them and keep walking. God just may use us as He saves a life.
After all, remember…..
It isn’t a far walk.
It is just nine doors down.
If you hear God tapping too, will you respond? Will you think of one person whom you see often but have never gotten to know? Then, do something.
Ask them their name. Thank them for bagging your groceries faithfully for ten years. Hand them a thank-you card if they are someone who serves. If it is a neighbor, invite them for coffee or soda or sweet tea. Offer kind words or a hug. Anything to show God’s love.
Karen is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries national speaking team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family. She is a featured speaker for Hearts at Home conferences for moms and is the author of four women’s books. To watch Karen on the 700 Club visit her here.