“Open the eyes to your heart.”

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!

They are ripe for harvest.”  John 4:35


Jesus, in this verse, is trying to convey to His disciples that they don’t see what He is seeing before them. They were looking in one dimension and he was seeing something in a completely different dimension. Their eyes were trained on natural things…the fields that were four months until the time of harvest, but Jesus saw the spiritual dimension of those who were approaching Him who were ripe for harvesting. We may be humored at times by the disciples’ inability to see what Jesus saw. But we, more than we would like to admit, see things incorrectly as well. We make judgements about neighbors or people in the market when we don’t have the full picture. We just don’t have a clue. It is so humbling to find that what we thought about someone is not true at all. I am sure we all can identify with Chris’s Story.

Chris Anthony Lansdowne’s Neighborhood

 I was standing in a long line at a children’s toy store, because I needed to buy a gift for my neighbor’s son’s birthday party. I couldn’t help but feel annoyed with how long the line was, and how slow it was moving. The longer it took, the more frustrated I became. I’m not proud of my attitude, but I wasn’t in a real happy mood, waiting in a long line at a toy store.

Finally, I got close to the front of the line, and just happened to notice the guy working at the cash register, he was keeping his head down, and not acknowledging the customers as they laid their purchase in front of him. Head down, he swiped the toys, put them in the bags, and never said a word.

No eye contact, No, how are you? No, have a nice day, No, sorry for the long line, he was just pretty much going through the motions.

I thought to myself, wow, this is terrible customer service, someone should really say something to him, that’s not how you treat your customers. I’m a very complimentary person when it comes to someone doing a good job, in fact, I’ll even call over the manager to sing their praises, but this was less then praiseworthy.

I thought I might even be helping him, by mentioning to him how he should make more of an effort to be pleasant and make eye contact with his customers.

So, when it came my turn at the cash register, I leaned in a little close, so not to embarrass him, and whispered, “Having a bad day??” hoping that would somehow jolt him into being aware of his noticeable mood.

As if in slow motion, he picked up his head and said, “Yes, I am, my mom is very sick, and is in the hospital, and she might die.”

It was as if a huge foot came crashing into my stomach, I felt weak in the knees and a horrible guilt immediately set in. “I am soooo sorry to hear that.” My heart was so affected by what he said, I just froze. Shame on me, for not once thinking that perhaps this poor kid might be suffering in some way. He was hurting and just trying to cope.

I walked around to him at the cash register, and with open arms, I hugged him, and he hugged me back with a brokenness and a surrender I’ve never felt before. I said, “I’m so sorry. I will pray for you and your mamma.”

How could I so easily forget that there is a hurting world out there? I need to see past what my eyes see, and look with my heart. So many people need to be asked, “How are you?” No, I don’t mean the “How are you,” that is just being polite, but the kind of question that wants to really hear how they are? Connecting with them, caring, and saying your life matters.

A time for reflection:

Loving one’s neighbor is not just for the neighbor next door, but those who cross our path throughout the day. Like Chris, we all have experienced what she experienced while waiting in line at a market or store. Can you remember going through a situation like Chris? How did you handle it? How does Chris’s story help you to reconsider making personal judgements about neighbors or those at the market?

(Chris Anthony Lansdowne is an American voice actress best known as host of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey. As host of AIO for more than three decades, she is heard weekly on more than 2,000 radio stations worldwide. She was also the first ever voice of Barbie and friend to millions upon millions of little kids everywhere.)



Listen to Bruce Zachary's experience with Neighborhood Initiative.

Listen to Dallas Willard's word to pastors and leaders about Neighborhood Initiative.

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