Neighborhood Reflection - Knock at the Door
Occassionally, one of our full-time staff or interns writes a reflection from living life in one of the neighborhoods where SOS partners. This month, one of our assistant construction directors, Jake, offers this story for us. This last Saturday, my wife Amanda and I had an eventful morning. We were in the kitchen getting ready to sit down to pancakes and coffee when someone knocked on our door. It was a friend from the neighborhood, known to be very friendly, very cordial, and extremely intelligent. He typically likes to stop by to have a glass of water and sit on our front porch swing, eight in the morning on a Saturday was a bit out of the ordinary though. My first thoughts, “IT’S 8AM! ON SATURDAY! He does not need to be knocking on our door this early on the weekend… We’re in the kitchen. He hasn’t seen us yet. We don’t need to answer the door…” I did not want to answer the door. I did not want get a glass of water and sit on the porch with our neighbor. I wanted to eat pancakes with my wife! He knocked again…
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13 ESV)
Okay, I’ve got to answer the door, if just to tell him this is not a good time. I approach our front door and open it. Our friend shows me his hands, covered what looked like second degree burns, and asks if we can take him to a doctor. He said he accidently caught himself on fire standing near a space heater. He said his back was burned as well, I noticed most of the hair on the back of his head had been singed. I’m speechless. First, I’m stunned that he is so coherent given his current state. His hands are covered in burns and blisters, and he claimed his back was burned badly yet he seems rather stable. Second, I’m incredibly humbled by the situation and my broken, selfish heart. Moments ago I was considering hiding in our kitchen to avoid answering the door, the door where a friend was knocking, a friend in distress needing immediate medical attention. I have him come inside while I catch my wife up to speed and decide what to do. We call another neighbor for advice on where to take our burned friend. Amanda and our friend get in the car and head towards an urgent care center. They check him out, determine he’s burned 20% of his body and that he needs to be admitted to a hospital. Amanda takes him to a hospital, where he is admitted a couple hours later. We haven’t seen him back around the neighborhood yet, but last we heard, he’s doing well. Amanda and I moved to Binghampton to truly invest in a community. We wanted to be part of a community. We wanted to know and love our neighbors, to be known and loved by our neighbors. Living in community is challenging, it takes effort and energy. It’s hard. We realized we’d often rather check out, lock our door, shut our blinds, and keep to ourselves. As I reflect on last Saturday morning, all I can think about is the parable of the persistent friend in Luke 11:5-13. Thank God that our friend knocked twice. God used me, in spite of me.