The house behind us long sat empty as a FSBO. I called the owner a few weeks ago before trimming back some overgrown shrubs on his side of the four-foot tall picket fence that runs the length of our mutual property line. The overgrowth had killed the grass on my side. “Be my guest,” was his reply. “I’ve sold the house and the new residents arrive next month. I think he’ll replace the fence with a new one anyway. Oh—they have a six-year-old daughter.”
Their six-year-old daughter has become fast friends with my eight-year-old daughter, Caley Kate. With her Autism-spectrum developmental delays, Caley Kate relates much better to younger kids. She had no real friends in our neighborhood until the little girl behind us moved in.
Most every afternoon after school, and different times on Saturdays and Sundays, we’ll see this girl from the house behind us standing on a chair on her side of the fence. She doesn’t call out for Caley Kate to come outside. She merely stands there on her chair and waits to be seen. One of us in the family will alert Caley Kate to this and she will run outside, stand on a chair on our side of the fence, and there the two girls talk, draw with chalk on the fence, or show each other their favorite story books and toys. There’s no gate there (yet), so their friendship is mostly an over-the-fence conviviality. They get to play with each other in their yards. But so many times they are content to stand on their chairs on each side of the fence and enjoy each other’s company that way.
Our little neighbor girl’s quiet waiting for her friend is remarkable to me. It’s like a faith statement: she knows Caley Kate will eventually emerge from our house and run to the fence because they want to be with each other. That’s how it is with friends. But I love that our neighbor child realizes she doesn’t have to draw attention to herself waiting, or climb our fence and knock on our door to ask if Caley Kate can play. It would be fine if she did. But instead she stands on her chair at the fence—possible because I cut back the tangle of brush that would have prevented it—and waits on Caley Kate. And her waiting is always rewarded.
We don’t think of the return of Jesus at Eastertime, usually. The focus is on His resurrection. But He rose to return. The same power that shook that tomb will someday crack the sky. And I don’t have to draw attention to myself awaiting Him, or otherwise try to clamber over “things too wonderful for me” to know, like how or when or where. It is enough to stand by faith on His promise, watchful and waiting, anticipating the Friend from Heaven who loves me as I am and will come to me soon.
Cole Huffman is Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He and his wife Lynn have five children—and one dog who thinks he’s a kid. Cole’s messages can be listened to on the church website: www.firstevan.org and he blogs at Where is the Fourth?