This month’s Here’s to You tribute is to the extra milers in our lives. We know them by their exceptional effort or kindness. Extra milers go above and beyond what’s required or expected and they do it without conditions, without expecting something in return.
Several years ago, I wrote about someone I observed going the extra mile in his work and issued a Live Like It Matters Challenge because of it. Last year, a kind gentlemen went the extra mile and probably saved me from a heat stroke. I wrote about it in Looked After.
I know some other extra milers who’ve gone so far beyond the extra mile there should be another name for it. In 2011, Roger and Joy were called to serve the poor. There’s nothing unusual about that for Christ followers. Jesus had a lot to say about caring for the poor.
But this couple is going way past the extra mile. Seven years ago they left the comfort of family and friends, an established ministry, and their home in another state to go and live among those they serve. They live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in their city. They’ve made themselves part of the space, living their lives, pitching in when a neighbor needs help, and accepting it when they’re in need.
This isn’t a ministry project. They’re being neighbors and friends. It’s seven years of hard and risky living, but so thoroughly beautiful in some moments, it takes their breath away. If you ask them, they’ll tell you about their friends there. They’ll tell you how much they love their home and the community. They share good times with their neighbors, but they share the tears and grief too.
There is another name for going way beyond the extra mile: Love.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV
“The mystery of the poor is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love.” Dorothy Day