Mark 12:28-30 NLT
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Now isn’t that something to take in? Think about it. Loving your neighbor is as equally important as loving the Lord? Does this mean just the neighbors who live to the right and to the left and those neighbors who are directly across the street? Only those who keep their lawns manicured and there parties quiet? I certainly hope not, because that would mean number one, I’m excluded from this commandment, and number two, I wouldn’t receive the benefit of this commandment. Is it because The Meadows have been known to let our yard get out of hand a time or two, or because we typically have loud parties with the music blasting?
While some may agree that it should be, it’s actually because we don’t live in a neighborhood. This country girl doesn’t have a next-door neighbor, but I have neighbors. Those of us in rural areas consider anyone within a few miles to be a neighbor. And after the experience we just had, I’m seeing a great illustration of what Jesus meant when He commanded us to love our neighbor.
Yesterday morning was like every other. The dogs woke up and needed to go outside. Brandon let them out, but kept checking to see if they were back at the door since this wintry storm was moving in and the temperatures would be falling. We expected them to do their business and come in for breakfast, but they weren’t around. Not ones to worry, we figured maybe they had gone down to my Mom’s or to visit our neighbors, Eric, Shirley and Jordan. They’re quite social, so we weren’t alarmed, just a little surprised since we had recently had them groomed, meaning they didn’t have as much insulation against the weather.
Although we figured they were out chasing rabbits or running the fields, our concern began to grow with each passing hour. Even if they’re out all day, they’re always home by dark. But not last night. And that was not a good sign.
Brandon, Brooklyn and Jaron loaded up and began driving around, shining flashlights, hollering their names. I made phone calls asking those down our road if they had seen them. Our neighbors who were out taking pictures in the afternoon never saw them. Some of the neighbor boys who had been out hunting hadn’t seen them either. No one spotted them. All day.
We needed divine intervention to find our puppies. And we believe God loves us so much that He cares for every detail in our lives. As a parent, I’ve searched for missing toys because I know how much it means to my child, not because of my own connection to it, but the joy I have to see the joy of my child. I know the Lord feels the same toward us. And I know, whichever way this went, He cared for us; He loves us; we’re His children.
A Facebook post asking for just that, for prayer, rendered so much love; so many expressions of concern and compassion. And then a neighbor, a couple miles away, went out in the night to look for our pets. And about 10:30pm as I was going to turn the porch light on, hoping it would help them make their way back, I noticed another vehicle scooting along with a spot light shining on the pasture. It brought me to tears seeing how much people care. I even received a text today from Misty, one of my dear nursing school friends offering to come help me look for them while her son was at school. People, this is loving your neighbor as yourself. Every person who searched, every person who shared their photo on Facebook, every person who offered to help, every person who prayed were all doing exactly what Jesus commanded, loving others as they love themselves. So many were helping us, not because of the emotional connection they have to our pets, but because of the emotional connection they have to theirs. They understand how hard it is to lose a pet and they were doing for us what they would do if they had lost their own. Loving their neighbor as themselves.
This morning I made nine phone calls to area shelters and veterinary clinics. One of those calls was placed at 8:54 a.m. And it’s one I almost didn’t make because it’s so far from our home. But I wanted to do everything possible. Eight minutes later, the clinic called me back and said, “We think this lady who called may have your dogs.” I was shaking and holding back tears while writing her name and number down. I called her and it went to voicemail. I left her a message and immediately texted her a photo of them. She texted back and said, “Yep. That’s them.” Well, after another phone call and a quick twenty-one mile trip, we got our puppies back!!!!
The Lord works on our behalf so often. Sometimes I think we minimize it or maybe we just overlook it. Sometimes we miss the details to be astounded by His hand at work in our life.
Our dogs are two black labs who love to run the fields. Our dogs don’t wear collars because we’re afraid they’d get caught on a pasture fence. Our dogs’ coats are shaved and yesterday was bitterly cold; we had snow. Our dogs wandered off our family’s160 acres to an adjacent piece of land. Our dogs were taken in by a man who was out caring for his cattle. Our dogs were fed. Our dogs were given a soft bed made from a cushion and covered with a sheet. Our dogs were loved on and cared for all day yesterday and all last night. Our dogs even had an egg prepared for their breakfast this morning.
It’s almost unbelievable. I see how the Lord cares for every detail of our life. No sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it gets cold. Sometimes we get hungry. Sometimes we are lost. But there’s nothing like being found. There’s nothing like coming home. And sometimes we need a neighbor to help us get there.
I’m thankful to The Schneiders who are my neighbors. Yes, they live over twenty miles from my home, but they loved this family as Jesus told us to love.
Be blessed, neighbors!
Wonderful to have had resources available-- willing people wanting to reunite pets with their families. Thank you to all the animal shelters and veterinary clinics who took my name and number today!
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