As the sprinklers dribbled out like the last of a canned soda, Betsy stepped into the yard to investigate.
Why aren’t they working now? I just fixed them. Then she noticed water bubbling from a hole in the ground. Another sprinkler gone. That’s a dozen times that somebody took parts off. She knew who it was. My new neighbors certainly have room for improvement. She sighed.
Betsy had welcomed them with cookies and fresh bread when they moved in. So did the other neighbors. With the latest missing parts, she’d gone to their door to talk to the family. A doll was tossed aside in their front yard. They had no girls. The dog was chewing on fresh corn cobs. They had no garden.
As she had reached down to retrieve the parts on their porch, a family member snatched the parts from the elderly lady’s hand and snapped, “We bought these! The receipt is around here somewhere.” Only Betsy had a receipt because she bought them.
Now Betsy knew she had to do something different.
The dark-uniformed police officer advised, “Put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Then we can pick up the one who is doing this next time he comes in your yard.”
So she put up signs on every side of her fence. A few went missing.
A week later, Charley from across the street asked, “What is going on down our street? Have you driven south on our road lately?”
“Check it out. You have to see it to believe it.”
Betsy drove the length of her street. Every house had “No Trespassing” signs on the fences. The new neighbor’s house with her sprinkler parts not only had three signs across the front of the fence, but bright yellow and black tape across the length of the yard, blocking the driveway, and making yellow stripes between the trees.
Guess the new neighbor doesn’t want anyone stealing back their stuff, Betsy concluded.
Though none of the neighbors left things out in the yard for the taking anymore and had already judged the new family on the block, God is the righteous judge. He believes in the value of everyone and gives them a chance to turn their lives around if they choose to. He also gives them just consequences if they don’t.
Remember the convicted criminal on the cross next to Jesus, with just hours to live, confronted the other criminal who had been mocking Christ. “’Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”
“Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” [Luke 23:40-43]
Some wonder just how fair is that? But Jesus’ gift of sacrifice and forgiveness touched this man at the last of his life. The criminal was truly sorry for his life and knew Jesus as Messiah, Savior and the Son of God. Such an act is an example of God’s compassion and love.
It is an offer for everyone—even those whose dog is chewing on fresh corn and they don’t have a garden. But they must make a change in direction, thoughts and actions. No trespassing? No, God’s offer is more like “Come on in!”
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]