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RELIGION: Loving our neighbor

by By Gene Linzey, Reflections on Life | September 14, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

It was Sunday, Dec. 21, 1969. Christmas was on Thursday, four days later. Carol and I had been married a little over three years.

The Christmas program for Sunday morning had a few minor glitches, but everyone loved it anyway. I was tired but ready for that evening. And then ...

Sunday at noon it began snowing. Seattle and Everett, Wash., seldom received more than a few inches in each snowfall, and we planned on being at the Sunday evening service. However, this weather system began dumping a lot of the little white frozen fluffballs. When the snow was six inches deep, Carol, 2-year-old Darlene, and I built a snowman, a snowmama, and a snowbaby. Baby Ronnie was asleep. We wondered if the snow would preclude our Christmas program that evening. We would find out soon enough.

Our neighbors in the trailer next to our apartment walked over and greeted us. They were not Christians, but they knew we were, and respected us. After watching us and chatting for about 10 minutes, the husband asked, "What are your plans for this evening?"

We had spoken with them at times but didn't know them very well. I looked at the snow we were standing in, looked up toward the clouds that were hidden by the blowing snow, looked back at both of them and realized they had something deep on their mind and needed friendship. I also realized that my car, that didn't have snow tires, wasn't going anywhere.

"Drinking hot chocolate and relaxing. Why?"

"May we come over and talk for a while?"

I looked at Carol, pondered the severity of the storm, and asked, "When would be a good time?"

"How about an hour from now?"

"Great. Make it happen, and we'll have hot chocolate ready." The snow was now around eight inches deep, so I cancelled our interaction at church. I called to tell the pastor, but he didn't answer the phone. I knew I would have some explaining to do later that week.

Our neighbors came over around 6:30 that evening, and we had a wonderful time visiting and talking about anything and everything as all four of us established a good relationship. But we finally got around to the topic on their minds. We talked about the Bible, church, and Christmas. We put Darlene to bed, gave Ronnie a fresh bottle, talked, laughed, drank more hot chocolate, and sang several Christmas Carols until 2 a.m.! They told us that, as a married couple, they never had that good of a time before, and thanked us profusely for making that Christmas Sunday special for them.

The snow had been piling up all that time, so they made deep tracks getting home -- next door. We didn't give them an altar call or push them about faith in Christ in any manner. But our discussion, our home, our family, our attitudes and our love for them revealed our love for Jesus Christ. We hid nothing from them.

Several days later I explained to the pastor why I missed the Christmas program that Sunday evening. He wasn't happy with me, but I felt we were on a mission from the Lord.

Within a few months, Boeing had a big layoff, and we moved to Los Alamos, N.M.

Five years later, I got a card from someone I didn't know in Michigan.

"Dear Mr. & Mrs. Linzey. You might not remember us, but in 1968-1970 we lived in a trailer next door to your apartment. On the Sunday before Christmas, you allowed us to visit you til the wee hours in the morning. We just want to tell you that last week we both accepted Jesus as our Savior, and it's because of our visit that snowy night in Everett, Washington, and we want to thank you for sharing your lives and the love of the Lord with us."

The return address was messed up so I couldn't respond, but that note from our former neighbor brought tears to our eyes. And it reminded us to be flexible in our schedules so that we can cooperate with the Lord as He brings people and situations into our lives. Those of us who say we live for Jesus need to verify it by how we live.

We'll always be grateful for the impulse the Lord gave us that snowy evening in 1969, and it set the stage for how we would live the rest of our lives.

-- S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor, and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Print Headline: Loving our neighbor

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