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Five minutes to make a difference…

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There was mud stuck to my face. Lots of it. An attractive mixture of sweat and dirt that had somehow – smeared like war paint - found it’s way to my forehead while I was weeding my grossly neglected flower beds in ninety degree heat.

Let’s be honest, these are the days that I hope no one stops by unannounced. Heh.

There were still yard tools to clean up and hungry children to feed and I may have just spotted last night’s dishes piled high in the sink, for crying out loud.

Neighbors walked by, and I pretended not to notice while I finished up my work. There’s only so much daylight left, I justify, and responsible mamas must get on with it and feed their children sooner than later. And just like that, I let another conversation, another smile, another chance to encourage walk right past my house before my very eyes. Five minutes to make a difference, just lost.

And then the fire happened, and in less than five minutes, everything changed.

We sat straight up in bed after we heard it – the sound so stunning that even in our sleepy states, we knew it was out-of-character significant.  A violent storm was wrecking havoc in our quiet neighborhood, and the loud crack of lightning shook us to our cores. We peeked in on our kids, confirmed that all was well in each room, then with a sigh of relief stumbled back into bed, dozing off as we prayed for the storm to pass. It wasn’t until the next morning that we would learn of the devastation. Just a few houses down, our neighbors had lost everything.

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We had always been a friendly neighborhood, to be sure. It wasn’t uncommon to hear children giggling or see owners taking their dogs on evening walks. But people more often than not seemed in a hurry to get to the next thing: meaningful conversations were replaced with quick hellos and I need to be on my way. Sweaty, dirty faces looked away, waiting for a day that was more convenient; more – I don’t know – presentable. Like five minutes and a little pride was too much to spare.

But after the fire, a beautiful thing happened. After all, it’s often through hardship that love shines through and beautiful stories of unity are written.

Neighbors gathered in the street, offering their homes, shoes, and whatever cash was in their pockets. People stopped and engaged with acquaintances to brainstorm ways they could help. Donations were collected. Notes of encouragement were written. Dog walkers stopped to visit, and busy businessmen walked across the street to shake hands and introduce themselves by name. Emotions were openly shared; humanness was exposed. And dirty faces never looked more beautiful as generous hands helped sort through the rubble.

Handfuls of five minute encounters were everywhere, impacting lives in astounding ways.

One of the most meaningful of these encounters I witnessed was a neighbor carefully tending to the outdoor hanging plants that had been singed in the fire. Most would have taken one look at those flowers and deemed them beyond repair. Too damaged by the extreme heat; too insignificant to spend any time bothering to rescue. But this sweet woman saw value in something that her grieving friends held dear to them: one of the only things that retained any resemblance of the beautiful home they had worked so hard to build. So she lovingly watered those baskets day after day, believing that with enough tender loving care, they would bounce back and do more than just survive against all odds. She believed they would thrive and bloom into something beautiful once again.

With tears in my eyes, I realized that how this woman dealt with those damaged flowers is how God loves us, and in turn how we should love others. We might appear so broken, damaged, often labeled too insignificant and beyond repair by the world, but God sees our value. He came down to meet us where we are, and offers grace and hope and life back into our suffocating, dying souls. And the Living Water that He lavishly pours out on us has the power to restore us to something even more beautiful than before.

Even as He is the one who pursues us, provides for us, encourages us, comforts us, speaks love over us, so we must understand that we are to pursue others in life-giving love. Because He is the source, the beginning and definition of generous, unconditional love, and He lives within us, we must be a picture of His initiating love to all who come into our lives. ~ Sally Clarkson {You Are Loved, pg. 108}

Oh sweet sisters, there are broken people all around us. The question is, are we willing to notice them, “cross the street,” and are we willing to see beauty in the broken? What if we committed to even just five minutes TODAY to show God’s love to someone and make a difference for the Kingdom?

“And this is his command:

to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,

and to love one another as he commanded us.”

~ 1 John 3:23

 

At His feet,

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Comments

  1. Oh that was good stuff! I live in than neighborhood! Touched my heart and made me think. Thank you.

    • Cindy, are you serious?! Oh my goodness, what a small world! So thrilled that you are part of the GMG community. Would love to meet you sometime!

      Love,
      Whitney

  2. Patricia says:

    What a wonderful story of God’s love and people sharing that love of all.

    Thank you,
    Patricia

    • I still get tears in my eyes when I think about the community that came together for this sweet couple. Oh, I pray that I will generously show God’s love through every day moments as well. Thanks for commenting, Patricia!

      Love,
      Whitney

  3. Wow… this is beautiful..

  4. Kerri Shaffer says:

    Wow what a story and i needed this today. We all need to stop for just a few minutes each day because you never know when God will have someone he wants you to talk to or help. This verse has been shown to me for the past week and i think God is trying to tell me something.

    • Love like he does sometimes we get so caught up in the every day struggle we forget to stop and love the people God has put in our lives to show them His love. Great reminder. Thank you so much, Whitney

    • So true, Kerri, and I am often guilty of rushing through each day without stopping to consider who God might have in my path to minister to in a specific time and place. Oh Father, slow me down, fill me with Your love, and give me Your eyes to see!
      Much love,
      Whitney

  5. What a beautiful story, yes God sees our value. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your words of wisdom. So beautifully written.

  6. So beautifully written, it brought tears to my eyes and humbled my heart. Just yesterday I was the person who didn’t take 5 minutes with the neighbor to chat as I was to busy. I will slow down and look for those 5 minute opportunities
    God is placing before me during my day. In Christ.

    • Oh Abbey, I am often that person too. Asking God to help us both to slow down and love those around us well, so that they might see God’s great love through us. Love your heart!
      Love,
      Whitney

  7. Whitney, thank you for sharing this beautiful story! It brought tears to my eyes. It only takes 5 minutes to show God’s love to someone by just being kind and tending to someone’s needs…even if they don’t seem receptive to it. I am a cashier at a retail store and sometimes it is so difficult to minister with love and kindness! I should be making that my priority no matter what the circumstances. God is calling us to be accountable. I need his guidance as I struggle in this area. Pray for me ladies! I will return the favor!
    Love,
    Natalie

  8. Regina Gibson says:

    I can totally relate to this article. I am the hanging plant. I was once scorched and Jesus came and rescued me and revealed to me that He knows me and loves me even when I was at my lowest. He brought me back even better than before and left me with with such an unconditional love that for the first time in my life I could say I love you Jesus. Needless to say I had an encounter with Him in my kitchen and it has changed my life. He spoke to me through the gospel of John and said to me I choose you, so this was affirming to me. Also, God revealed to me the kaleidoscope which is similar to the heading. This word means beautiful form to see in Greek. God is the light, Jesus is the mirror and we are the broken pieces of glass. With God’s light we reflect Jesus to the world and it’s beautiful to God as Jesus is beautiful. We become the beautiful form to see.

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