Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Neighbors and The Light

My neighbor, Mike, went to be with the Lord this week. Many knew him as restaurateur whose business had a long tradition in this community. But for me, his greatest identity in my life is neighbor.  Many years ago, he and his wife Peggy Sue taught me something important.

After raising their kids in a home on our street, Mike and Peggy Sue, for reasons that seemed good at the time sold their house and downsized. They cleaned out their attic and twenty-five years of memories and moved to the other side of town.

The people that bought their home used it as a second residence and were hardly ever there. The house stayed dark most of the time.

Though I never spent a lot of time with Mike and Peggy Sue, I missed themespecially at Christmas. Their Christmas d├ęcor was always beautiful and now, no one even put a bow on the mailbox.

But after many months, we received wonderful news. Mike and Peggy Sue had bought their old house back.

Jerry and I cried when we found out. Our friends were coming home.

Before moving back in, there was a great deal of buzzing about with carpenters and painters. As I took my daily walks, I slowed down to catch a glimpse of any new developments.  

The most dramatic change was something that took me a while to understand. Perhaps, it was because the house seemed so dark the months they had been away, but after they moved in, the house always seemed aglow, every room spilling light into the street. I’d walk by their house, come back home, walk through the door, and ask my family, “Does it seem dark in here to you?”

I love light. I have big windows with no window coverings because I want the sun to shine trough. But at night, I noticed how not replacing a couple of lamps that had been broken made our family room dark.

I bought six lamps in the weeks after Mike and Peggy Sue moved back.

I observed my neighbors placed lamps strategically so a lamp shone in most of the windows. This not only provided light for the room but also made the house brighter from the outside. It made me reflect on this verse. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light” (Luke 8:16). 

I believe that within this scripture lies the secret of Mike and Peggy Sue’s lighting success.

Sometimes, for various reasonsfear, or low self-esteem, folks with amazing gifts from the Lord do not find a place of service. They relegate themselves to the corners of the kingdom preferring the safety of anonymity rather than risking failure, their lights hardly casting a shadow. I know I have had to deal with this myself. When we do this, we take the gospel with us to these safe places, hiding it, instead of risking putting it out for everyone to see.

Also, until Mike and Peggy Sue moved back, I didn’t know how dark my house had become. In a like manner, until we know the light that is Jesus, our darkness can seem as light. When Jesus comes with His pervasive and powerful light, we're astounded by His presence and love. He said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46)

Today, because Mike gave his life to the Lord, he is in the very presence of that light that is Jesus and the lamps in his windows here wouldn’t begin to match the intensity of what he experiences now.

We’re really going to miss Mike on our street, and  I will always be grateful for what he and Peggy Sue taught me about light and The Light. 
“As a Ford model during the 1980’s, the New York fashion world was my world. Beverly’s encouraging stories of how God moved in that sphere help us realize
that no matter where we are— even on Seventh Avenue—God wants to use us for His glory.”
Nancy Stafford
Actress (“Matlock”), Speaker, and Author

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