Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sandpaper

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4, MSG)

If you follow this blog, you may remember that we had some construction done on our home this past winter. We had heard about the insane mudding and sanding process and the mess it leaves, but seeing it was another thing.  The workers, meticulously go over every seam in the drywall that they plastered in to make it completely smooth and invisible once painted over.  In fact, being the perfectionist that he is, our remodeler, Darren, obsessed over a seam he saw reveal itself after painting and almost returned on the weekend to repair it.  When they emerge from this job, the wall looks good, but the poor workers look miserable, covered in drywall dust.  So what a gift that these guys were willing to go back at it to get that rough edge to cooperate!

God has taught me that he uses many of the people in our lives just like that sandpaper the workers used on the wall.  We just have to open our eyes to see it for what it is.

How many of us with children who have special needs deal with abrasive people?  First there's the doctor who thinks they know better than us and won't listen to our concerns.  Then there's the teacher that makes our child's school days unbearable and the administration that won't help us improve it.  Add to that the neighbor kid who refuses to play with our child.  And after that the critical family member who thinks that if we were just a better parent our child wouldn't have these troubles.  Even our child themselves, with all of their ailments, needs and behaviors can absolutely wear our nerves raw.

But that is exactly who and what God uses to perfect us and smooth out our rough edges.  You see faith untested is no faith at all.  When everything seems to be going wrong, holding onto our hope in the Lord is true faith indeed.  And that kind of faith is only grown and expanded through the repeated testing of trials.

The same is true of our Christian behavior.  Not losing our cool or acting nasty is an unnatural response for us hedonistic humans.  The world tells us it's our right to tell people what we really think of them and how they're treating us.  But God tells us that a fool gives full vent to his anger (Prov 29:11), and we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).  Do we really believe what we profess on Sunday?  Only a testing of those beliefs will truly reveal if we do.  And if we seek after that pleasant peculiarity that only Christianity provides, we are grown and stretched by the difficult people in life.

The next time that certain someone is dancing on your last raw nerve, take a deep breath.  Close your eyes and remember that you have some seams that are popping out, some rough edges that need to be taken off.  And the God who loves you is willing to get messy just like the construction workers in order to yield a product that will make you both much happier in the end.

Pray:  "God, help me to cooperate with your work, realizing that I'm not perfect.  Let difficult people do Your work in building the type of character that will bless others around me."

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