The screen door clanged as it slammed past it’s usual opening distance. The piston bent and there was no closing it after that. But 100 mph wind gusts can do that to a flimsy metal door. I just hoped those same winds would leave my basement windows in one piece.
On Monday our little town experienced incredibly strong winds. Our home was unscathed, minus the screen door. We are very thankful. Numerous friends and neighbors lost shingles from their roofs, or had trees on top of cars or garages. As for me, I only had a few very large tree branches that came down. Thankfully, they didn’t land on anything. But they blocked the street and our driveway. The clean up was going to be more than I could handle with the little hand saw I use for trimming the occasional branch!
Like a good neighbor . . .
Within an hour of the last gust of wind, my neighborhood was buzzing. Literally. The buzz of chainsaws peppered the community as neighbor after neighbor arrived to help one another. The street next to me was covered at more than 3 places by downed trees. And that is just the section I could see from my corner. In a matter of minutes I was in the middle of a group of my neighbors who were cutting branches away with saws.
Five of the branches that were blocking the road were still attached to one of my trees. And these were attached about 15 feet high. Rather than climb the tree or call a tree service, my neighbor brought out his massive pick up truck and hooked up a chain. There is something very satisfying about watching a truck squeal its tires and rip a 40 foot long branch off a massive tree! A few millimeters of tire tread later, and we were chain-sawing the downed limbs to clear the street.
Like a good community . . .
There was a silver lining to part of this massive storm. As I stood shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors, I had the opportunity to get to know a few of them. I chatted for quite a while with one in particular. It’s funny how a crazy storm and downed tree limbs can be just the thing the Lord can use to slow everyone down and give the chance to spend a little time getting to know each other. Talk about gospel opportunities!
After all, we are all busy people. We always have a long to-do list. It can be hard to find the time to chat with your neighbors, even though you live right next door. While this storm was bad, I’m thankful the Lord is really good at bringing good opportunities from bad situations.
Like a good church . . .
As I was picking up the final few branches in my yard, a thought dawned on me. The church is a bit like your neighborhood, spiritually speaking. We are always very busy people. We always have a long to-do list at church. Often we arrive and then must depart in speedy fashion, leaving little time to just chat with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
But, when a disaster strikes your own life, the church looks a lot like my neighborhood during this storm. When someone goes through a tragedy, the church is ready to show up with a helping hand. Meals get scheduled and brought to your home. Cards arrive in the mail box and messages in the inbox. Members shovel your driveway when you are at the hospital, and take care of your home when you need to be absent. Friends visit and the Pastor stops by. It’s a wonderful demonstration of the love of the Body of Christ.
The next time someone has a “spiritual storm” happen in their life, remember to reach out and be an encouragement. It may not feel the same as a 100mph derecho, but it’s a hardship all the same. We will need to be ready to sacrifice our time and resources for the believer who is walking through those winds. This is a perfect way to show the love of God to fellow believers.
But also remember to do the same for the neighbors who are right next door. Bring them a meal. Drop off some treats. Mow their lawn or pick up their leaves. You might not get to present the gospel, but you are giving them a taste of what it is like to be in the body of Christ. Maybe one day they too will be part of your spiritual neighborhood.