God Used a Fence to Bring Neighbors Together

How do you feel about your neighbors? Are you friendly? Do you get together for block parties, or do you just wave and go about your day?

We experience a mix in our neighborhood. My husband and I occasionally chat with several couples—the few people who have been around for years. Although we don’t invite each other over for coffee or summer barbecues, we do depend on each other when we need the mail picked up or someone to keep an eye on the place. If someone is going through a difficult time, people reach out a helping hand.

Then there are the neighbors who keep to themselves—like the couple next door. Except for when they entered or left their garage, we rarely saw them. About a year ago, we began to notice some changes. The yard was no longer cared for, and vegetation started to take over. It reached a point where the place looked abandoned. Eventually, it went into foreclosure, the bank took it over, and the people moved away.

The neighborhood waited to see what would happen …

A fence separated the back part of our property from that one, and tall Pyramidalis arborvitae grew between the front yards. But over the winter months, the evergreens died. We chose to not do anything until we could talk to the new owners and come to an agreeable decision—either plant new shrubs or continue the fence.

Before we had the opportunity to talk it over with anyone, people hired by the bank to clean up the place chopped the evergreens down and built a fence. Not a structure that matched the height of the existing fence—one much shorter. And the boards that were pounded into showed on the opposite side as the taller fence!

When we saw what had been done, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Are you kidding me?” We were shocked. How could anyone think that a difference in heights would be appealing?

Soon after, renters moved in. But several days went by without seeing who they were or getting a chance to introduce ourselves.

Then one evening, while I was out watering my flowers, the wife moved garbage cans outside for pickup the next day. We waved, and she came over to chat. Would you believe we stood talking over the fence like old friends for over an hour?

That would never have happened had the fence not been so short!

She, her husband, and young daughter had just moved from Texas—transferred with the Coast Guard. Christians for only a year, she was thrilled to discover that we're also believers. The other cool thing—she’d visited our church several times, loved it, and was planning to bring her husband and daughter the following Sunday (they were both out of town for several weeks). That weekend, we met the rest of the family at church.

My new neighbor and I have both laughed about the silly little fence that exists between our two yards. What we both thought of as an eyesore has actually been a blessing and opened up the way for us to get to know each other.

Have you ever had a situation where you thought something was horrible, only to find out that God used it for good?


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