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  • Writer's pictureMandy

How to Love Your Neighbor: Finding Opportunities in Interruptions

Updated: Jul 13

Big Takeaway: “Love your neighbor” can sound like an overused catchphrase until you (or your child) are the neighbor who receives the love. 


I scanned the area and couldn’t find Luke. My heart rate jumped as I stood up to look for him. We were playing at a local church playground, and of course, during the two minutes I took my eyes off him, he ran for it.


Toddlers


My eyes caught his bouncy blonde hair running toward a pond nearby. I love him with every ounce of my being, but in that moment I was ready to dropkick him. Not really, but you know what I mean. 


Once I caught up to Luke, I realized he had run directly to a middle-aged man and his teenage son fishing at a catch-and-release pond near where we were playing.  


“Can I try that?” I heard Luke ask the dad as he pointed to a blue fishing pole that was three times his size. The sweet man smiled at Luke and said, “Sure!” 


This kind, sweaty dad picked up his blue fishing pole and handed it to Luke. He showed Luke where to place his hands and helped him use the reel. Then, he reached into a white cup with live worms wiggling around in brown dirt, pulled out a worm, and baited the hook for Luke.  


JR was his name, he said, and after the hook was ready, he cast the line out into the calm water and passed the pole to Luke. They slowly circled the reel together with their hands and watched the red and white bobber go up and down in the water. Within seconds, BAM! 


I’m not kidding you—on his first try, Luke caught a fish! It was a wiggly little fish that might as well have been a record-breaking bass.



“Wow! Look, Mom!” he said with excitement. Everyone nearby who heard Luke stopped and smiled.


JR was patient and kind and continued to bait and cast the line for Luke. He nodded over to his son and said in his thick country accent, “I used to take him fishing when he was his size” as he looked at Luke with a smile. Nostalgia made its way into our fishing moment, and I couldn’t help but smile, too.  


After about 30 minutes of fishing, our faces were wet with sweat and Luke’s cheeks were glowing red. We thanked JR and told him it was time for us to head home. But before we walked to our car, JR walked to his, and handed us a bag of hooks and bobbers for “the next time we go fishing.” 


What began as a moment of wanting to discipline my son for running away turned into a moment of discipleship for me. Luke caught a fish, and I caught a glimpse of Christ. 


JR, a total stranger, happily invited my curious 3-year-old son into his fishing experience without batting an eye. It wasn’t just his time, attention, hooks, and bobbers that I’ll remember; it was his servant's heart. It was his willingness to selflessly love his neighbor, even when his neighbor was a 3-year-old who interrupted his family fishing time.  


“Love your neighbor” can sound like an overused catchphrase until you (or your child) are the neighbor who receives the love. Love in action is what moves people. That day, it moved me.   


JR taught me through his kindness that having a servant’s heart means being willing to be inconvenienced.  


If you’re like me, this is hard. I can get annoyed by the slightest interruptions in my day—like waiting in a long line, having a server mix up my food order, or getting stuck behind a slow driver (when I am the one who made myself run late).


But here’s the truth: Interruptions and inconveniences are opportunities to serve.


Friend, will you allow God to open your heart and mind to serve others no matter the time or place?  Will you let Jesus shape your perception of people? You never know the impact you may have on someone. 



Reflect:


  • When someone interrupts your day to ask you for something, how do you typically respond?

  • On a scale of 1-10, how willing are you to serve others? (1 being not at all and 10 being Jesus-level)

  • Read and reflect on Galatians 5:13 (NLT), “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” 

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