Recently I penned a short post – ECT & Passage 1 – Matthew 5:43-44, 48, in relation to eternal torment. In the post, I asked if a believer may find some condition or circumstance to wreak vengeance on a neighbor. A bit of a foolish question, but bear with me.
Currently, I have superb neighbors, but such was not the case in our past. This story will present to you a neighbor we lived beside years back, and of the mercies (and humor) of the Lord in teaching His children.
I’m going to tell you of a past neighbor, whom I shall call “Frank”, (in order to protect the guilty).
He was a kind fellow at the start, and would refer to my little daughter as a “widdle wabbit”. He kept to himself for the most part, and was without work, being on a disability pension.
I think the descent into madness began when I dug a hole on our property to install a cloths line for my favorite wife. Being in Canada, this hole had to be a minimum of 4 feet deep, to miss the frost line, and the effort was more than I first imagined. After a period of time digging and temporarily placing the excavated material between the hole and the park land to the south. I went in to have supper, letting my wifey know I would set the pole after work on Monday.
Turns out I didn’t get a chance to set the pole, since Monday afternoon I received a call from wifey to come home immediately – the police were in the back yard. Police? On arriving home, I met my wife, two police officers and Frank in the back yard. Frank had filled in the hole with the dirt I had piled to the side, and then called the police to have me charged with trespassing or something silly. Mind you, the pile of dirt was near the public land to the south of our property, but for the life of me, I have no idea why he did this.
In the interest of brevity, what follows is only a few of the highlights of Frank’s acts against our family over the course of three years. He claimed my wife had threatened him and drug her through the court system for a number of months. Please understand, my wife is 5′ 4″ and 110 lbs, dripping wet, while Frank was a 6′ 2″, 240 lb man. He tried multiple methods of intimidating my wife through the courts, though lying about our children, through writing foul letters to our neighbors and signing my name to the letter, through sitting in front of our home with his headlights shining into our bedroom, having the federal police (RCMP) come to our door to question us. You get the idea?
One action that Frank took, though not the most serious, typified his mind set. We had a 4′ hurricane fence between our properties, and he strung barbed wire along the top. He added barbed wire to the little 4′ fir trees on the public land behind his house.
Mind you, we had 5 youngins by this time, and my three oldest boys loved playing in the back yard. What was wrong with this fellow?
During our time in the courts, my wife and I “happened” to be reading the story of David and Saul, and how David would not hurt his king. Out of this reading, we were encouraged greatly to exercise no revenge upon Frank, but to pray for him and to ask the Lord for safety from him.
Don’t misunderstand. We did not consider him to be a chosen king (like Saul), or that he deserved any mercy from anyone. Not at all. What we began to see was our responsibility before God to let God be God and for us to do as He directs His children to do.
A passage that we referred to often through this period is found in Romans 12:17-21.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Many in the neighborhood told us stories after our ordeal, of Frank threatening young children prior to our moving into the neighborhood. It was a difficult time to say the least. At one point, Frank actually phoned into a radio show to complain of the “foreigners” that lived beside him. He ranted about how we should have stayed in our nation of origin, how we were lazy, destructive and of no use. (Both my wife and I have a minimum of five generations in the land of the Great White North.)
Looking back, it is hard to believe of some of this man’s actions toward us. Truly amazing. But as I started this posting, I mentioned the Lord’s humor in all of this trial.
It turns out that after graduating university with my degree – oh yes, this ordeal was going on while I was back in school, spending 60 – 70 hours a week in my studies, that Frank suddenly put his home up for sale. The rumor had it that he wanted to move to a “childless” neighborhood to the north. I am convinced that God had been working behind the scenes and that Frank simply could not find a better solution for his poor troubled soul. Nevertheless, his home sold within a few months, and he eventually moved, but not before seeing our home on the market also.
You see, after receiving my degree, we found employment in the state of Texas. My wife and I had looked to move south for years and an opportunity came up that allowed us to make the jump to a land of sun and heat!
Frank had lost his position of intimidator within the neighborhood, and the story goes that the neighborhood he moved into actually became a young family centric neighborhood. Oodles of little children!
We saw the hand of the Lord many times during this trial, protecting our family, giving us opportunity to speak of the mercy of the Lord, and experiencing a bit of the humor of the Lord. You got to admit, for Frank to sell his house just before us must have been a great frustration to him.
But, the Lord is on His throne. He is watching over His children. He cares and provides, even to the weakest of His followers.
For us, we are to look to the direction He has provided through His word. His witness while He walked on this earth speaks loudly, if we want to hear it. He exercised massive mercy toward those who lied about Him, made outrageous claims against Him, drug Him through the courts, physically beat Him and eventually murdered Him. All the while seeking forgiveness for His very tormentors.
Consider the high calling we have in Jesus. He is our example.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
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