Mind the Gap

“Rappahannock Reverie” (Train Bridge in Fredericksburg, VA)  © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Last autumn, I celebrated the miracle of life.

No, I’m not talking about a tribute to the Right-to-Life Movement, or even about the birth of a child.

I celebrated my ongoing existence. . .

You see,  it’s a miracle that after 32 years, my husband and I haven’t murdered one another.

Knock on wood.

Honestly, we epitomize the classic Odd Couple.

I’m Felix; he’s Oscar.

I’m the tortoise; he’s the hare.

Indeed,  my “Energizer bunny”  regularly makes the jump into hyperspace.

I pity anyone left in his wake.

Uh, huh.  Been there.

More. Times. Than. I. Can. Count.

But one will do anything for love, right?

I distinctly remember scrambling after my hurried half one Saturday morning, seven years into our marital adventure. In order to fully enjoy that unseasonably sunny day, we decided to catch the early train.

So off the hare dashed… Minutes later, I gratefully slid into the seat beside him.

However, my relief was short-lived. Upon our arrival at the transfer station, he sprang to check the arrival boards.

“If we run, we can catch the next train downtown,” he cried, bouncing ahead at a mad pace.

Five minutes later, I collapsed on the designated train. Like Disney’s Thumper, my other half impatiently tapped his foot.

When the subway doors opened, the automated voice said, “Mind the Gap.”

But without a moment’s hesitation, the hare disappeared.  Fortunately, I correctly guessed his exit path.

I’m the tortoise; he’s the hare.

Emerging from the subway hole, I found him looking for the nearest cafe.

“I’m tired,” he admitted, “let’s get something to eat.”

I gratefully agreed. And after savoring a scone and sipping English Breakfast tea, I felt rejuvenated. I smiled contentedly and expectantly looked to my other half for the day’s itinerary.

My husband, however, had experienced enough adventure for one day.

“Let’s go home,” he suggested.

It was 1 pm, and I protested, “But we’ve only just arrived!”

I blinked, and he was gone. Left with few options, I shuffled along behind him.

And that’s how it is when a tortoise marries a hare.

Obviously, such differences periodically make life  uncomfortable.  And quite frankly, many of us avoid all manner of discomfort.

Perhaps, your “hare” isn’t your spouse.  Maybe,   a boss, a child, an acquaintance, a fellow church member, or a neighbor tests your endurance.

If you’ve experienced the conflict, you understand the oyster’s self-protective instincts.  Some create pearls; others build walls.

Some even go so far as to say, “You stay on your side of the river and I’ll stay on mine.”

Yeah. It’s certainly easier to associate with like-minded folk.  I totally get that.

In fact,  throughout history, humanity has muddled its way through differences.

And as a result, like poet laureate Robert Frost, many have concluded that “good fences make good neighbors.”

Yet,  Jesus had a way of turning conventional wisdom upside down. 

You know the parable well.  It might even be the most well-known of Jesus’ stories:   the Good Samaritan.

Of course, any early century Israeli would have balked over Christ’s pairing of the words Good  and Samaritan.  The reason? Samaritans were actually only part Jew, and as such, had compromised Mosaic Law.

Because Israel had wandered away from God and His protection, the nation had been conquered by many empires. Thus, many Israelis found themselves living outside of Palestine, (Daniel 1:1-7).

There remained, however, a remnant in Judea .  And despite the Mosaic Law’s prohibition, many married non-Jews.

And so, while the Samaritans maintained their belief in Yahweh, they had compromised their faith.

This, then, is the cultural context for Jesus’ conversation with the conscientious teacher of the law described in Luke 10.

Like poet laureate Robert Frost, many have concluded that “good fences make good neighbors.”

The teacher likely shunned Samaritans as did many of his Jewish peers.

Nevertheless, he asked Jesus a sincere question: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied,  ‘”What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”‘ (Luke 10:26).

The law teacher quickly quipped, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,'” (Luke 10: 27).

Jesus followed commendation with this challenge: “Do this and you will live,” (Luke 10:28).

It was a troubling statement; the lawyer looked for wiggle room.  After all,  good fences make good neighbors.

Loving the lovable…no problem.  I’ve got it.

Loving those who agree with me…I’m there.

Working with those who pursue the same goals and dreams, who espouse my values…Easy peasy.

But that oddball down the street or in the adjoining cubicle at work?  You gotta be kidding.

I imagine the lawyer paused awkwardly and then …

“‘And who is my neighbor?'”

From that moment forward, the atmosphere shifted from mildly uncomfortable to downright convicting.

Jesus’ parable presented the following conundrum: A victim of a robbery gone bad suffered horrendous injuries. Deprived of his travel monies, stripped of his clothing and beaten, the traveler had been left for dead on the side of the road.

It wasn’t pretty.

For any compassionate passerby,  personal safety was a consideration. . . criminals could potentially ambush anyone who stopped to help.

Helping would also bring extraordinary inconvenience.    And the victim’s recovery was not guaranteed…Obviously, there were numerous reasons for leaving well enough alone.  Avoiding the victim–as did the priest and Levite– appeared a judicious choice.

But lest we excuse the priest and Levite as simply preoccupied, Jesus noted that  each potential “savior” deliberately crossed to the other side of the road.

Definitely a case of…You stay on your side and I’ll stay on mine.

The story would end as a tragedy if not for…  The Samaritan.  That’s right.  A man rejected by his Jewish cousins gave grace to an injured and ignored Jewish traveler.

The lawyer caught Jesus’ drift.

Jesus had a way of turning conventional wisdom upside down.

And 2000 years later, I also recognize that Samaritan for willingly  stepping out of his comfort zone.

It hits home.

You see, grace reached out even when things got messy.

It crossed the divide.

It bridged the gap.

Obviously, the injured man had nothing to offer the Samaritan.  If anything, a history of mutual prejudice stood between them.

Yet, in Jesus’ parable, God’s mercy moves from the academic to the practical: godly love sacrifices; grace gives even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.

That’s the kind of love God demonstrates toward us, (Titus 3:3-7).

Yes, God sees us as individuals not labels. And Christ became our substitute on the cross in order to make us right before God.

Grace bridged the gap.

I don’t have to agree with all those I meet.  But Paul reminds me that following Jesus means I will adopt Christ’s attitude toward others (Philippians 2:5).

It’s true.  In this world, I will meet many with whom I disagree.   And without a doubt, agreeing with everyone I encounter is impossible.

However,  I am to be like-minded with Jesus. I am to offer others His love and grace.

It isn’t easy.  It isn’t comfortable.  Sometimes, it hurts.

Jesus understands that better than anyone else.

But as you and I  begin to truly see ourselves in light of God’s mercy, it becomes easier to extend grace to others.

And that’s how this tortoise and hare seek to love…

Never mind the gap. Grace bridges that.

“We love because He first loved us,” ~1 John 4:19

97 thoughts on “Mind the Gap

  1. Amen. I too struggle with accepting my wife. I’m not sure why because she is a great delight to me. I think it is harder when someone knows me so well. i can’t hide my bad days from her and she loves me anyway. I guess one of the harder things for me is accepting someone loves me even though I am imperfect. You are so right to have more of a God perspective is the key. Thank you for this great post. You are very talented.

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  2. I usually tell folks that I am a hyper poodle who gave birth to a turtle—I was that hurry hurry mom, chop, chop, we’ve got to go…NOW…..
    and my son was / is the lackadaisical turtle—of course he may live to be a million while the jury is still out on hyper drive mother….

    and we’re still bridging the gap 🙂

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  3. It sounds like you and hubby have the means to a great marriage. Paul and I are opposite sides of the spectrum. He is like your hare husband and I’m much slower. He’s always thinking, ideation and creating while it’s harder for me to get into that zone. I believe God puts opposites together to initiate balance. One compliments the other ❤️

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    • So true, Kathy! God puts us together and we each bring our strengths. And it works well. I love my hare! He’s brilliant and amazing. But it is hilarious how speedy he is and how pokey I am! Makes for some very funny situations and stories. 😉 And isn’t amazing that you and Paul are similar! But of course, we are kindred spirits. ☺️❤️❤️

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  4. I really like the way you weaved this story together. I am certainly reminded to give my “tortoise” (since I am more of the hare) some grace. Perhaps this will be my goal this month- to give grace at a hare’s pace. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I enjoyed this post. We’ve vacationed with a “hare” once (a good family friend) and he kept us all hoppin’ at Disneyland and that’s saying something since Disney has the tendency to get everyone hoppin’. Luckily he had brought along his mother and she moved at a much slower pace. So we let the kids keep up with his fast beat while we stayed comfortable with his mother, haha. This friend recently paid us a visit and he had us all laughing with stories of his past antics. It’s good to have all kinds of personalities in one’s life I think. We are all on the same journey, even as we move at different speeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hares make life so fun and exciting, don’t they? Yes, God has given each of us different gifts. And life would be so much less if we were all exactly the same. Love your story! Thanks for telling me about your friend. I grinned from ear-to-ear reading about his fast paced Disney and your keepung his mom company! So glad I’m not the only one. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Am I willing to go out of my way to demonstrate grace, even when it means things will get messy? I hope that when the opportunity comes knocking, I will. Thought provoking post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you with all my heart, Linda! You are so thoughtful! Your kind and specific thoughts about my post mean the world to me. You have blessed me beyond imagination today. Thank you and thank you again! I pray God blesses “the socks off ya!” today and all throughout 2018! I love your poetry and your blog has been one of the delightful discoveries of my year! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “It isn’t easy. It isn’t comfortable. Sometimes, it hurts.
    Jesus understands that better than anyone else.”

    I identified with this statement. Yes, love sometimes hurts, but Jesus took that hurt for us so that we can love others with his love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Mind the Gap – Dark Side of the Moon

  9. Wow. I think I will get this put on a rubber ink stamp and imprint it on my forehead (ya, I know, the printing would be real small…). I’m also not going to tell you what a great job you did in opening up the love, acceptance, grace and wisdom contained within the “Good Samaritan” parable either. God’s wisdom in this parable applies to so many situations of our day to day lives. And funny how the “+’s’ and the” -‘s” get hooked together and yet we need the differences in order to have a flow. If one didn’t know better, you’d almost think it was planned that way. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know or comprehend and in fact it is really just sheer utter grace that I even exist. The truth where God says a man and woman are joined together and become one is also tied to our relationship with God, in so many ways. And there are those “differences” again and yet we would be lost without our mate and we would be lost without our union with God. There’s a pattern there if you look for it. “Seeing through a glass darkly” is really a bit of an understatement, at least for me, until of course, you Lynn, crack open that door and let God’s light and wisdom shine in. You are a “lifter”. You lift us all up and I am thankful and grateful to our God that He has shared you with us. God’s grace and blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Bruce… you are such a “grace giver.” I so admire that about you. You speak truth, you communicate the “hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence.” And that my friend is an absolutely crucial quality in any defender of the faith! God is using you mightily to impact lives for Him! I am truly humbled to think that my post would have resonated with you. You have so much wisdom and understanding. Your knowledge of God’s Word runs deep. I truly look up to you, my big brother in Christ 🙂 Yes, you are so right! I, too, would be lost without my other half! I’m so blessed to have an “energizer bunny” in my life. He’s amazing… he has given me so many grand adventures over the years! It has been a wonderful journey. Thank you for your incredible encouragement today! Mark Twain once said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” But I think I’ll be encouraged for at least a year after reading your kind words here today. Thank you with all my heart! God bless you greatly, my wise brother in the Lord!

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  10. Pingback: Mind the Gap — Through Ink & Image | Reasoned Cases for Christ

  11. Matthew and I are like this too. He always needs time to think about everything and that drives me crazy😂😂. Loved this post sis. It reminded me to extend the same grace I enjoy daily to not just Matthew, but everyone😊

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    • I love it, Efua! 🙂 And yes, once again, I preach to myself. Always important to extend grace to everyone… after all, I need others to extend grace to me a lot! 😉 Grateful for God’s grace in my life, without a doubt! And so thankful for you, my wonderful friend! ❤

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  12. What a beautiful story. You wove in the Gospel is well, and would pull in someone who does not know the Lord. I would guess many seeds were planted through this story. I admire someone who can write compelling stories to draw people in. I am not very good at that and can learn a lot from writers like you. I tend to go straight to the heart of the matter.
    Your tortoise and hare analogy is wonderful – me an my wife are similar. After 38 years, we still go at different paces. I also love the title, where it came from, and how it wove through the whole piece.
    Masterful.

    Be blessed

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, thank you, Pete! That means the world to me coming from you as I admire your poetry/psalms very much! I have never been particularly good at writing poetry and thus, I am in awe of yours. And you carry your themes beautifully through your psalms! How great to know that my husband and I are not the only ones 🙂 I bet we’d all make a formidable foursome 😉 God bless you and your bride greatly, my friend!!

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  13. Such an inspiring post – and so very true! Your words “grace bridges the gap” were so sweet to my soul! Walls are so much easier to build than bridges of grace and it’s only with God’s help that there are any bridges at all. My husband and I have been married 46 years and we are very different in many ways; yet, by God’s grace, our differences are often the glue that helps each of us become stronger together as a team. We listened to someone on the radio who had been married 52 years and he said, “communication is the key.” My husband said, “that’s only one of the keys.” We started listed all the other necessary ingredients to keep a marriage “in working order” and of course, the list was long. God’s grace is the priority, of course, and I’m so grateful to Him for blessing our marriage and our love. (I know it’s good because I would definitely choose this man again and again…)
    One other thing, your painting made me want to sit right down on the grass and gaze at that bridge myself! Beauty is always a joy, and seeing your artwork is like being right there. Thank you!

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    • Dorissa, you are such an encouragement and inspiration! Thank you for your extremely kind words about my art! That means the world to me since I pray so continually that God will somehow use my paintings for His glory. I actually started the blog specifically to write about the spiritual themes that God teaches me through the paintings and the painting process. And it brings me so much encouragement and joy to know that you see and understand the connection! Thank you, thank you! You have made my day!

      Also, I so love what you say about your marriage. You and your husband are such a wonderful example of how God takes two and joins them together as one. You obviously complement one another! I’m so thankful for my husband and particularly grateful for our differences as my husband’s gifts have blessed us again and again over the years. It’s wonderful to be part of a “team” that can serve better together than apart! Again, thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful comments here, Dorissa. Hugs!

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  14. This is inspiring, Lynn. Yes, grace bridges the gap. I love how God reaches out to us even when we are messy or contrary. It’s always fun to gaze at your paintings before I read your post and look for the connection to it as I read. The bridge of grace. Awesome! I love the good Samaritan parable. It sets such an example for us. And it’s even more personal to me coming from a background where religious leaders and even “friends” turned their backs on me when I needed them the most. Thanks be unto God for bridging the gap for us and for His sufficient grace through whatever we may go through! May His grace spur us on to offer grace to others! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Trudy… I’m so sorry that in the past anyone turned their backs when you needed them most. That breaks my heart! But somehow, you drew closer to God because you are such a godly example of faith to me. And yes, absolutely grateful for God’s grace! You are so thoughtful and wise. I love what you say here and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be blessed by your wonderful comments. Love and hugs right back to you! ❤ ❤

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  15. Beautiful picture and beautiful words. I’m married to a hare too. Sometimes I have to slow him down a bit and sometimes he has to hurry me along. We’ve learned how to make it work. 😉

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  16. Oh dear, I’m afraid I’ve been the ‘Hare’ on many occasions in my life, hahaha! ❤ thankfully, my family still loves me all the same. 😉 I loved reading about your take on the story of the Good Samaritan! I have always loved that parable. "Grace bridged the gap" ❤ ❤ ❤

    I hope your week has gotten off to a beautiful start, Lynn!

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  17. I love this narrative, Lynn. In the post, I liked when you said, “grace reached out even when things got messy.

    It crossed the divide.

    It bridged the gap.

    God’s grace is bigger than we can imagine and encompasses everyone; even our enemies. I also liked when you said, “… grace gives even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.”

    When you said, “…following Jesus means I will adopt Christ’s attitude toward others (Philippians 2:5).” That alone is hard for us as Christians becuase we live in a fallen world that focuses on ourselves, but we can be like the Samaritan and give grace to our enemies.

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  18. Wonderful message! Thank you for sharing. I couldn’t stop staring at the painting. It’s so beautiful. Also, thank you for following my blog. I utmost appreciate it.

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  19. You showed a lot of Wisdom in your Message Lynn, you could have said you and your Husband are perfectly matched and so there is no need to compromise when needed or to seek God’s Love to cover the differences instead of offering Worldly love that demands it’s own wants first.

    I ask God to give me His Love for my Neighbors meaning everyone including those who hurt me not that I accept the wrong they do and say but I forgive them even if I can’t be in close fellowship with them because of their dislike mainly for my Christian beliefs.

    Yes I’m accused of being a Bible Basher when I have only shared how God had blessed me greatly even when my life has been very hard and it was to those who at the time I thought were friends but their critical gossip and lies showed their true colors. I have also been physically abused and robbed and yes also Slandered when Blogging, not up front but behind my back, some have deleted Comments or blocked me without any Scriptural confirmation I’m in error but I remember I’m not the first or the last Christian who will suffer for Christ and I know He is with me all the way..

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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    • Oh, yes, Anne. I get that. In suffering, we become more like Christ. You understand this fully. My husband’s life verse is Philippians 3:10. It is a difficult passage to embrace in my humanity, but there is such closeness with Christ as we walk through such difficult times: learning to forgive others and to depend fully on God. Thank you for sharing your heart here… as always, you cause me to think ever more deeply about my faith and about God’s work in our lives! God bless you greatly! ❤

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  20. Wonderful post, Lynn! God has been reminding me of this quite a bit lately. I love that where I used to put up fences, He has been tearing them down and giving me compassion instead. All for His glory!

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  21. Great post, Lynn! Love the Felix and Oscar, rabbit and turtle, word pictures for your marriage! Also love the painting and that grace bridges the gap….and in the case of your graceful bridge picture, it’s often not just one span, but several to bridge the gap. Grace is often not a one time thing to be truly effective but ongoing work! Thanks for the encouragement!!

    Liked by 1 person

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