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Tillie and Phoebe

Here’s a story you can read to your children, but with application for all followers of Jesus.

Tillie, an irish setter and Poebe, a basset hound were best of friends. Unfortunately, while running together in the woods of Washington State they became lost, not for a day or two, but no one saw them for a week!

They weren’t really lost. Phoebe became trapped in an old concrete cistern at the bottom of a ravine. Nobody knows how she got there. But, from the scratch marks on the walls, as hard as she tried, she couldn’t get out. Without food or water for a week, she slowly got weaker and weaker.

What Tillie did next, captured the imagination of news agencies all over the world. Tillie stayed close to her friend. She couldn’t help Phoebe, but she never left her friend’s side. For a whole week!

After a week, presumably desperate to help her friend, she finally went for help. Tillie barked and made a fuss until someone finally figured out there was a problem and followed her all the way back to the cistern and rescued her friend.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Loving your neighbor in real life We often hear stories like that and think, “Oh, that’s nice” and that’s it. Because the chances are, none of us will ever actually rescue another human from physical danger. But, if we’d just take a few minutes to reflect, there are people all around us in trouble – emotionally, relationally, financially and spiritually, who need rescuing. And true followers of Jesus are in the rescuing business. So, here are some ideas for how loving your neighbor, both for children, and then for adults, works in real life.

Children

  1. Is there a new kid at school or church who may be scared or lonely, who could use a friend, even for a few days?

  2. Is there an older person in your neighborhood, living alone whom you could visit and offer to do some yard work? (With your parents’ permission of course!)

  3. Is there a special needs kid at your school who is just different, and who eats alone?

  4. Did you use to have a good friend who betrayed your trust, who said they were sorry, but you’ve not yet forgiven or tried to restart the friendship?

Adults

  1. Do you have someone who use to be your friend, who made some very poor choices so you gave up on them, and have abandoned the friendship? “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

  2. Do you have an older parent who you’ve not called or thanked in a few weeks?

  3. Have you let a dispute about the Bible or a political or social issue, divide a former close friendship?

  4. Have you stopped being your spouse’s best friend?

  5. Is there someone in your church, who’s lost their self-respect, who needs you to call and have a cup of coffee with them today, even if they’re completely guilty?

  6. Do you have a friend who has moved out of town, and out of your mind, who would probably love to get a call or have a Face Time conversation.

Sadly, today our children’s ideas about what a friend is, has been distorted by “pseudo friends” on Facebook and other social media sites. So, parents, share some stories with them of the real friends you’ve had, and what real relationships look like. Share how you talked for hours with your friends, face to face, helped each other out and encouraged them when they needed it. Help your kids or grandchildren learn what deep, personal friendships really are.

Loving your neighbor isn’t all that complicated. But, I’ve found it’s easier to love “nice neighbors,” than difficult or distant ones.

How following Jesus works in real life.

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