If you missed part 1, head over and read it now!
Diving into winter coats, we headed out the front door to what I desperately hoped would not be a complete disaster. I prayed every step of the way, asking God to either work a miracle or let the gruff old couple be gone. I secretly hoped for a “drop and run” mission.
When we reached the Smith’s sidewalk, I made a last ditch effort to avoid the inevitable. “What a shame. There’s no car. I guess they aren’t home. We’ll try later.” (Like in twenty years or so.)
My children were not to be trifled with. They stood their ground, glaring at me. “Fine. We’ll ring the doorbell,” I said.
Taking a deep breath, I uttered one last hopeful prayer and pushed the button.
No answer. Awesome! God does answer prayer!
“Well, let’s just leave the goodies and try again when your daddy’s home,” I cheerfully suggested. Weak with relief, I turned to make my escape, children in reluctant tow, when the front door creaked open and Mr. Smith appeared.
“What are you selling? Whatever it is, we don’t want any!” he barked. That did it! I can handle someone being mean to me, but being mean to my kids is an entirely different matter.
I had just about had it with these people and was more than ready to tell the scowling man what I thought of his attitude. But before I could get out even one of my many angry words, Danna shyly handed him the card she had made. With the pride of a renowned artist, my sweet little girl said, “I made this for you and your mother. It's free!”
Great! Just great!
In a matter of seconds, Danna had just doubled the age of Mrs. Smith. “I have a card for you, too!” chimed in Jered. I held my breath, expecting an explosion at any moment and wondered how I could possibly finish my Christmas shopping from a jail cell.
The next sound I heard was unbelievable.
It was a laugh. A laugh?
I could not believe my ears, but sure enough, our grouchy neighbor was laughing. I had never even seen the man smile!
Opening the screen door, he winked at Danna and shouted back into the house, “Mother, we have visitors!” The elderly man’s face broke into an almost childlike smile as he shook both Jered and Danna’s hands, welcoming us into his home and life. Shame filled my heart as I fervently whispered, “I’m sorry, Lord. Please forgive me. Cleanse my angry heart.”
We stayed for hours, eating sugar cookies, reading the kids’ books, and listening to stories of their own children and grandchildren. “They don’t come to visit anymore and seldom call. They are too busy,” Mrs. Smith sadly explained. Jered looked up at me as if to say, “I told you!”
When we stood to leave, the now friendly, mild-mannered couple said, “Such lovely children. You should have more! By the way, it’s so nice to have such a dependable watchdog nearby. Please come back.” We did … and soon became friends.
My kids looked past the couple’s gruff exterior, sensing their need and, in childlike love, decided to meet it. Because they did, I learned an important lesson in dealing with difficult people. When you meet a simple need you may discover it was concealing a much deeper need.
But that is not the end of the story.
A few weeks later, Mr. Smith had a heart attack. Dan was able to visit him in the hospital and share Christ with him. Because my children reached out and loved someone who seemed to be unlovable, a man’s heart was changed and turned to the God of my children’s love.
Reflection point: Think back to a time when someone met a need in your life. How did it make you feel?
Application point: Right now, think of the most abrasive people in your life. Find one good point about each person and voice it to others whenever you have the chance. What can you do to demonstrate the unconditional love of God for these people?