Shortly after the election this past November, I went for a walk that ended up challenging my thinking on what it meant to be a neighbor. Dean and I were grieving the election results. We were heartbroken that so many of our fellow Michiganders chose to codify abortion on demand into Michigan State law. We were seeking the Lord about what He would have us do about this development,-even questioning if He wanted us to move to another state. God answered that question for me in a clear, lovely way.

On the course of my walk, I ran into a woman I had observed walking around our neighborhood many times in the past. I stopped and said hello, and after our introductions the woman asked if she could accompany me on the route I had chosen that day. I agreed, and after we exhausted the usual small talk as we walked, she surprised me by bringing up some topics of conversation that showed me she was also discouraged by the direction our culture was headed. That discouragement was prompting her to ask some questions about the nature of God. When we came to the spot where our paths home diverted, we agreed to walk and talk again sometime.

In the way the Holy Spirit works sometimes, He continued to bring this lady to my mind. As I knew where she lived, I sent her a card in the mail and included my phone number. Long story short, she has come to my house for coffee and has asked to study the Bible with me because in her words, “I like the mystery of God, I but don’t know a lot about Him or the Bible.”

The thing that challenges me the most about this new God-given relationship is this: it could mess with my time and my heart, and I need to be okay with that because God is Lord over those things. I call this friendship God-given, because I can take no credit for it. It is something He set up and is asking me to steward. This dear lady is my neighbor!

As I consider and obey what it means to be Christ-like, I have been thinking about how Jesus called His disciples and rubbed shoulders with all classes of people in His day.  In John 5:19 and 30 Jesus said:

19 “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’”

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”

As Jesus ministered to people, chose and led His disciples-who were true nobodies of that day, performed miracles, confronted religious and political leaders, died on a cross, defeated sin and rose again; all that He did and said was directed by the Father. He let people mess with His day and life because the Father wanted that from Him. Likewise, all that I do and say, who I befriend and minister to, needs to be directed by the Father and I am to be obedient to that direction. Here’s my opportunity to conform to the image of Christ, put to death my own desires, and live for something eternally much bigger than me.

And that’s the answer to my prayer I mentioned at the beginning. God has planted Dean and me in the neighborhood of His choosing, located in the State of Michigan, in the middle of a time in history that to human reasoning seems very uncertain. The anecdote to the abortion issue comes through the Truth of the Gospel one person at a time. God is bringing people into my life, my neighbors, who need to know of His love and His salvation message.

It is His idea I can rest into it.