Christian Living Stories: A Neighborhood Watched

The sight never ceases to intrigue me. I drive past it several times a week and my eyes rove over the landscape like I expect something to have changed, even though nothing has in several years.

The scene is a subdivision near my home. Several streets laid out in a typical grid and cul-de-sac pattern, nicely curbed and guttered. Underground utilities installed with pedestals sticking up at each house lot. Streetlights standing straight and tall like sentries over the neighborhood. But no houses. None. Haven’t been for years.

So what draws me to scour the scene every time I drive by? Granted, there’s the mystery of it all. Who started the project? Why don’t they sell the lots? Is the land tied up in a lawsuit? Did the developer die? Is there a toxic dump under it? I soon exhaust all my fictional musings as to the current state of affairs, but still I am compelled to examine the scene every time I cruise by.

I feel sad that so much work and expense has gone into it; that it isn’t what it was intended to be. There are supposed to be rows of houses, cars parked in driveways, kids skateboarding and riding their bikes, people mowing their grass and walking their dogs. It’s obvious this is supposed to be a living, breathing neighborhood.

But it isn’t. Just dry weed-filled lots. No flowers or manicured lawns. No birds frequenting a feeder filled with sunflower seeds. No basketball goals on the curb. No sound of swing-set laughter or barking dogs. No aroma of steaks on a backyard grill. No life.

Yet, I yearn for life for this neighborhood. The intent and potential is obvious. Just as obvious as my next line of reasoning is going to be. How much does God yearn over my obvious, under-developed potential? Much has been invested in me. The plan laid out, the power lines established. Is my life a pulsing, throbbing community, or is it a barren, desolate wasteland? Granted, Jesus has already made me his own, and God loves me in whatever state I’m in, and I’m so thankful for that! But what Master Planner doesn’t desire his development to grow into all he envisions it to be?

So I begin to question how I view others around me. It’s so easy to see what I perceive to be wasted potential in my neighbors and be critical of how they’re living their lives. Wouldn’t my energy be better spent building relationships instead of settling for a take-no-risk wasteland? I may not agree with their choices of job, recreation or ministry any more than I approve of their house-trim color. But so what? Together, we’re a living, breathing community, with all the diversity and creativity that our Developer intended. It certainly beats the alternative.

I think I’ll go break some new ground. Maybe take a community college class. Volunteer. Get to know my neighbors. Explore the shops close to my home. Not only can I be an active part of my own community, just as you can be an active part of yours, but we can also be sure that the Wind of change will inevitably blow in our souls.

May our personal lives pulse with God-life. May others be drawn by his streetlights of love and peace, the sounds of joy and laughter and the aroma of grace and mercy.

Sue BergerBy Sue Berger, a massage therapist and a pastor’s wife. She enjoys nature, naps and writing. Interrupt her at


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