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On The Other Side Of The Fence


Funny things happen when you resemble Tom Sawyer.

When you put on a pair of overalls and head toward that fence with brush in hand, you get the benefit of Tom’s familiarity and likability.  Neighbors and strangers who mention the similarity between the two of you,  walk by and can’t help but cheer you on and want to stop and chat.

Mark Twain material.

Unfortunately, there is that part in you, that part you hate to admit exists, that makes you want to run behind that fence and paint in solitude, hidden.  It would be so much more efficient.  Easier and faster.

But there is the fact that the front of the fence DOES need to be painted.  So you find yourself on the other side of the fence, out in the street, vulnerable to passersby who will undoubtedly interrupt and slow you down.

And they do stop.  And they do interrupt.  And they do slow you down.

You know that the paint on your brush is drying to a coat of sticky rubber as passersby engage not only with you, but with others who have stopped to encourage you in your tedious, strangely, it would seem, heartwarming task.

And suddenly you realize that something much bigger than a ruined brush or a painted fence or a disrupted project is happening.

Everybody is on the same side of the fence.

Community is happening right there in the middle of the street, without planning or preparation. No one is left out or choosing to stand on the opposite side of that fence. (Not even you!) While no one is painting, everyone is absolutely actively involved in this phenomenon.

You decide this might just be the sweetest interruption you’ve ever experienced.

Your attitude adjusts, and you begin to see the beauty of what has just happened.

People are connecting.

Unlike Tom, you don’t hand everyone a brush as they continue to stop and say hello (although now, as you’re thinking about it, that would be a really good idea!), but you give them what you have on you.

Time.

Availability.

And honestly, if anyone had asked, you wouldn’t have said that you even had either of those to offer when you started the project.  Too little time, too much to do, too many deadlines to meet.

But they’re coming out of the woodwork from their houses and their own busy lives.  They ventured out from behind their fences, too.

So here you all stand, with nothing between you and them except conversation and laughter.

Is your brush a goner?  Are you going to be able to finish your project with all this going on?

You decide these are irrelevant questions now. You have no choice but to give your measly “five loaves and two fish” amount of time and energy and ask God to use it for something bigger.

And He does. 

He does it even though you aren’t in the right clothes, are void of any resources other than yourself, and are physically spent. Even though you feel the nagging pangs of  “I have so much to do!”

Because He’s all about Love and Connection. 

To Him, it was never about the project at all.  It was about the people.  He called you out from behind the fence. He put you out there in front not just to touch a brush to a picket, but to touch another life with your heart.

Your close knit community just got a little closer and a little bigger because you are all on the same side of the fence, risking time lost and “paint brushes drying” for something a bit more important.

And to think you would have missed it all if you’d stayed behind the fence.

 – What magic would happen today if you ventured out to the “same side of the fence” with your neighbors and others in your sphere of influence?

 – What could God do through you if you set down your “brush” for a minute and risked a conversation?

 – What’s keeping you from stepping outside the fence of comfort and safety to reach a world that needs your touch?

Everything good happens when we’re all on the same side of the fence.  

Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 

John 13:20 – Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.

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