I am amazed at the turmoil that we are experiencing in our country these days. And the longer this pandemic goes on, the worse it seems to get. The boundaries of civility and respect are fading into the background.
As an example, Janet and I live on a small fifteen acre lake that we share with a number of neighbors. There are rather strict rules for the homeowners around the perimeter of the lake that we all signed on for when we purchased our homes. We have an architectural review committee to assess and approve changes to the exteriors of the homes and there are restrictions to safeguard the wellbeing and privacy of each property and its family. In fact, for security reasons, we also limit use of the neighborhood ponds to residents as we have somewhere around 300 homes in our community.
But we have been plagued with people from other areas who disrespect our covenants and rules of the community. Whether it is somebody trying to climb the fence after hours and use the pool at night – or people trespassing and performing acts of vandalism – we are having a more difficult time protecting our homes and property.
I am amazed at some of the stories that I have heard. One person actually flew drones around the lake and peered into the windows of residents. Several other people from the next neighborhood have taken to dumping their garbage in other peoples’ trash cans on collection day. And non-resident fishing has become more prevalent this summer with the pandemic and lack of formal school attendance. While each of these things may seem insignificant in and of itself, it is difficult to monitor all the things that people think they are entitled to. A week doesn’t go by that I am not contacted by some homeowner with an issue that needs to be dealt with – usually from some outside person who has damaged something or trespassed on private property.
It is a shame that it has come to this and our board of directors has had to acknowledge that things have to be kept under control. We have never seen this level of disrespect in the twenty years that the community has been in existence.
But recently, I heard of another situation that has occurred in our city that just doesn’t seem to be right, either. Friends of ours have some property and noticed someone walking across the yard with several wooden stakes and a hammer. The person was driving stakes into the corners of the property and claiming the land for an organization that wants to move close by. In fact, I guess that you could say that they were claiming the land in the name of God.
Now, I know that people have all sorts of methods that they use to get their own way. I’ve seen that in our own neighborhood. But to trespass and drive stakes in somebody else’s land seems to be a little over the edge. I respect the tenacity of the group that wanted to claim the land for future expansion but I wish that these endeavors would be done with dignity and respect for other people’s property. Needless to say, I have mixed feelings on this whole event. I love the idea of asking God for help but not at the expense of law abiding citizens who have worked hard for what they have.
I happened to see several of the stakes that had been driven into the ground and I found it interesting that each contained a different Bible verse. Each of them seemed to highlight a verse that had to do with claiming the land or depending on God to deliver for you. Our verse for tonight is from one of the stakes that I found particularly interesting. Moses, the author of Deuteronomy tells us, in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
While this is great advice, we have to be careful to keep Bible verses in context and not claim them to suit our own purposes. We must be in concert with the biblical intent. My encouragement tonight is to affirm that God wants us to turn to Him and present our petitions, primarily in prayer. My prayer is that we will honor God in all that we do. Yes, it is true that God will fight our battles, but He expects us to play by the rules and be upright in our thoughts and actions – and that includes respecting others in the process. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…