May 25, 2018
“Relationships happen in the margins.” Or at least that’s what the book Next Door as It Is in Heaven says.
Living in suburbia can make margins skewed. It can make white space almost obsolete. There’s school and soccer practice and problems at work. Sometimes the garage door begins to close before the gear goes into park. We’re all desperate for a little quiet. We’re out of energy, out of time, and out of relationships.
Brandon and Adrienne were both there. They were both busy with work and raising their daughter Vivienne. Good jobs. Amazing family. Brandon had grown up in the church. He’d professed Christ nearly 15 years ago. Adrienne had followed his lead since their marriage. She’d listened and learned. They’d worked together to instill Godly values and moral awareness in their precious daughter.
But life had gotten less predictable in recent days. Stress at work pushed Adrienne to a new level of desperation. A job change for Brandon forced him into a new place of trust. And through this slow unraveling, they began to realize something was missing.
In the limited margins of their lives, they’d formed a relationship with their next door neighbors. They’d watched the kids play together outside. They’d had Easter eggs hunts and Christmas parties and neighborhood sledding. And they’d also gotten the awkward invitation, “Hey, why don’t y’all visit the Summit sometime?”
So, on a Sunday morning, they did. They visited the Alamance County campus. They worshipped. They listened. And the tenderness of God’s consistent, predictable love began to reshape. It began to calm the stress and relieve the questions. So they kept coming and coming. And God kept working.
During the weeks leading up to Easter, a seed began to grow. Brandon knew it was time to stop putting off the public declaration of the decision he’d made 15 years ago. He wanted to be baptized. At the same time, Adrienne had also been wrestling with God. She’d realized the gospel was something she wanted for herself. She’d seen it in Brandon. She’d prayed for it for Vivienne. But now she personally wanted to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
On a Wednesday afternoon, they invited their next door neighbor over to talk. They looked at God’s Word together. They prayed. They cried. Then Brandon and Adrienne both affirmed that Jesus was indeed the Savior of their lives, and they planned their baptisms for the following Sunday.
That next week Brandon and Adrienne climbed into the baptismal tank. Their daughter sat on the front row and watched her dad and mom declare their love and devotion to Christ. Their family was being eternally reshaped because of the gospel.
And amazingly, it all happened in the margins. It started in awkward chats at the mailbox. It happened in, “I’m sorry my kids trampled your grass.” It flourished in afternoon walks.
We are called to go like our Savior came. And sometimes that “go” may be as simple as leaving margin in your life to talk to the neighbor next door. To listen when they talk. And to be sitting right there on the front row when they get baptized.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).
By Tiffany Pollard