There is a simple command in the Bible that I overlook so often.
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
And when I do take the time to notice it, I often get boggged down in the how and why. I over-complicate it. Recently, I saw this verse practically lived out for me in the most ordinary and yet most powerful of ways.
On an ordinary and slightly overwhelming Tuesday morning several weeks ago, I was preparing for the possibility of hurricane Matthew and toting around a baby-almost-turned-toddler who didn't want to sit in the shopping cart one second longer. As I hurried through the parking lot pushing a cart full of giant diaper boxes with one hand and holding my little one with the other, I heard a someone shout at me.
I turned to see a women I had never met before sprinting across the parking lot toward me. She pushed my cart to the car and lifted those giant boxes into the back seat of my car with a smile. I didn't ask her to. She just saw a need and helped.
I was stunned.
I was overwhelmed by her kindness.
I saw so clearly in that moment the power of practical love.
I don't know that woman. I never found out her name. But I watched her load my groceries and smile at my toddler and love me with her actions. I still tear up thinking about it.
It's so easy for me to get caught in the lie that love must be grandious to make a difference. We think that we have to do something difficult or expensive or time-consuming or "original" in order to love our neighbors.
But I believe the love we are commanded to show our neighbors is so much simpler than we think.
It looks like needs spotted and met.
It looks like a willing listening ear.
It looks like opening the door.
It looks like a text to say, "I'm praying."
It looks like five dollar flowers on a doorstep.
It looks like a hug and a smile.
It looks like unloading a strangers groceries.
It looks like noticing and responding to simple needs that God places in our path.
I remember my college years pastor talking about this verse...
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
He shared a story about helping someone pick up something they had dropped. It was just a few steps and a few moments of his time, but he said, "I believe this was a good work God had prepared for me."
What weight of glory does this lay on our everyday moments when we realize that God has prepared in advance good works for us!
As the woman I never really met graciously loaded diapers into my car, I realized again the power that one simple act of kindness can have. Often our acts of love and service toward people who very literally cross our paths each day won't turn into opportunities to share why we are doing this. But I believe that whether an opportunity for deeper conversation arises or not, God is glorified when we walk in the good works He has prepared for us.