FROM OUR MINISTER'S SOAPBOX
A Tale of Two Houses
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one
another...If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone... If your
enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will
heap burning coals on his head." (Romans 12:15 16; 18 20).
For many years an elderly lady was noted for her beautiful tulip garden, just passing by the colourful display made the heart want to sing; her garden represented earth's beauty at its best. Next door to her was the unkempt home of an elderly man. His fence was battered and broken, weeds shot up everywhere, and the paint was peeling.
Such extremes of appearance, it seems, could not coexist for long. Neighbours wondered why the elderly lady didn't complain or make a phone call to council officials. Yet no confrontation ever occurred. The beautiful tulip garden and the messy plot remained the same year after year.
But this spring an odd thing happened. As I drove down the street, I was surprised to see a few brilliantly coloured rows of tulips in front of the elderly man's house. The rest of the plot still looked like a disaster, but those new, gorgeous tulips stood out. Curious, I stopped my car and walked up to the lady's home. She was outside weeding her flowers.
"Hello!" I greeted her. "I've always admired your beautiful tulips."
"Well, thank you," she said, smiling in a way that made her grey-blue eyes twinkle. "If you will wait a minute, I will cut some for you to take home. They don't last long, mind you, but they brighten up a room!"
Within a few minutes, she had cut a dozen gorgeous blooms for me. I thanked her and then said, "I noticed your neighbour planted tulips, too."
"Oh, no," she said, winking at me. "I planted those for Mr. James. He lost his wife a few years ago, and his children have all grown and moved faraway. He lives such a bitter, lonely life," she sighed. "I call that my plot of hope."
"A plot of hope?" I asked, not sure what she meant.
"Yes, to give him back the hope that his own home can be beautiful again, that there is still goodness in life, and to let him know that Jesus loves him just as much as He loves me."