on loving your neighbor...

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, 
and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:30-31

"We'll get something to eat when we get to Auntie's house.  
Momma didn't think to bring y'all food."

I had just sat down.
We had arrived at the beach thirty minutes prior.

Getting settled in for a good long beach day is no small feat.
I don't believe in packing light for beach days.
There's the Beach Bin...a monstrosity of a Rubbermaid tote that lives in the back of our minivan for the all-too-few weeks of summer that we have.  It's loaded with sand toys, water shoes, sunscreen, extra sunglasses, and blanket-sized towels.  And yes, the whole bin comes out when we get to the beach.
Then there's The Cooler...what my steel-handled, red, vintage Thermos cooler lacks in practicality, it more than makes up for in looks.  Although, I've got to admit, I've caught myself enviously eyeballing those modern rolling contraptions more than once...especially while struggling with lugging our heavy beast.
To these, you can add a beach chair, a watermelon and tray (we always take a watermelon to the beach with us), a bag loaded with books, and the usual over-filled mom-purse.
Lightly-packed? No.
Prepared for practically any need my children could possibly have over the next six hours? Yes.

We had arrived.
And I had opened the Beach Bin.
I'd set the towels in a neat pile, waiting for the wet hands and sandy feet that might need them.
I'd hauled the brightly-colored plastic buckets and spades and boats out onto the sand, at the ready for castle-building exploits.
I'd sprayed sunscreen onto every square inch of exposed skin...on four very fair-skinned little people.
I'd spread out the Beach Quilt...successfully outsmarting the wind, getting each of the four corners to mind my bidding, laying smoothly on the grass.
I'd set My Beach Chair in just the right spot, perfect for staying out of the sun's harsh direct light while still maintaining an ideal vantage point to monitor the kiddos.
I'd handed out snacks, passed out water bottles, piled up flip-flops and set aside dry clothes.
I had my Beach Hat, my sunglasses, my Beach Book, and my blue mason jar of lemon water...
They were ready for me.
I was finally able to sit down.

"I'm sorry, baby.  Here.  Eat another fruit snack.  
Let's play a little while longer.  I promise we'll get some food on the way home.  
Momma's so silly.  Why didn't she think of that?"

I was sitting.
This is what I had come for.

And then He told me to cut her some watermelon.
My watermelon would help her babies not be so hungry.
My watermelon would buy them a little more time at the beach.
My watermelon was way too big for my family to eat all of it, anyway.

But my watermelon was behind me.
On the Watermelon Tray.  On top of The Cooler.

And I was in front of The Cooler.
On My Beach Chair.
With my Beach Book.
And my sunglasses.
And my lemon water.
And I had just.sat.down.
Did He realize this?

Of course He did.

And then, plain as day, I heard the still small voice...
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

It wasn't that I didn't want to share...you get that, right?
It was that I didn't want to share right now.
I was comfortable.
This was my pay-off for all that hard work.
I wasn't being stingy.
I was willing to share...
in a few minutes.
in a little while.
Just please let me sit a bit first.

But little tummies don't wait.
And little bodies hold little patience.
And my watermelon was needed now.
Not in a little while.
Not in a few minutes.

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
And I obeyed.

Because today, loving my neighbor meant sharing my watermelon.
It meant sharing my watermelon now.
It meant getting up.
It meant moving.
It meant giving up a few moments of convenience...of "me-time"...of "but I just sat down!"

What does loving your neighbor look like to you?

I think, so often, we think loving our neighbor looks like The Big Things.
It looks like the special offerings in church.
It looks like hospital visits and meals to homes.
It looks like donations to causes and volunteering for missions.
It looks like days spent serving in shelters and ministering to the downtrodden.
It looks like foreign lands, and unknown languages, and unfamiliar cultures.
It looks like poverty and famine and real need.

But sometimes, more often than I believe we realize, loving our neighbor actually looks far more little.
It looks like the kind word said in passing.
It looks like the smile as you pass through the doorway.
It looks like the wave as you allow someone to pull out into traffic.
It looks like the spare change for the lady ahead of you that's 59¢ short.
It looks like reaching that top-shelf item for the older lady that's just a bit too short.

And sometimes, it might just look like sharing your watermelon at the beach.


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