Truly getting along with others is a skill that few have mastered. Misunderstandings abound and oft times in their wake friendships suffer. At times the damage is so severe that the relationship can not survive. This leaves feelings of resentment, frustration and even loss on both sides.
Let's face it, there is no need to pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. We have all experienced this type of communication breakdown at one time or another. The question is how did we respond?
Oswald Chambers gives a suggestion on how to rise above our automatic response. He said, "A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus."
Are you revealing the sweetness of Christ to those who insult you? (For that fact, Am I?) How many times must we get the opportunity to practice forgiveness, patience and kindness before we will allow Christ's Sweetness to envelop those who offend us?
It hurts Me to see the walls you have built around yourselves. You sit high in the judgement seat piously looking down on others. I’m sorry you don’t understand.
The more you separate yourselves from the world, the more you isolate yourselves from those I love. How will they know My love if it is not for you. You were intended to be an expression of Me to the lost, hurt and dying. But that expression has become distorted. Instead of showing My love, you have become callous. It is not Me that you are portraying. It is your distorted, sin stained view of who I Am. Oh you look good, all shiny and put together on the outside, but inside you are messy. You attend church every time the doors are open. And you cling to the ritual of a lot of mandatory events (and rules)! You wouldn’t think of missing a service, but who are you when you are all alone? Are you like Me?
After all of your busyness, do you have any time left to share Me with those outside the church walls? Do you have time for the lost, the hurt, the ugly, the smelly, the broken? Do you think that miraculously the lost are going to step foot into your meetings? Would they even be welcome if they did?
While you have a members only party in My Name those who need Me most are kept at an arms distance. How are they going to meet Me?
You have such potential! Oh I know you mean well, but even within the church you do not express love one to another. You are not an attractive representation of Me. Your aroma is not compelling. Instead it serves to push those who need Me farther away from Me.
I am different than you. I met people on their turf and I loved them when they were unlovable. It wasn’t until after they experienced Me that they were changed. Do you remember how you were before I called you to Me? You were waist deep in the muck of sin, some of you were even blissfully swimming in sin. But then I found you and you were forever changed.
I did not save you to be judge and jury, to separate yourselves so fully from my creation. No I saved you to love Me and share that love with others, who like you were, they are lost and blind. Oh that you would understand.
“God, I asked for You to make me more like You. While I was waiting, our baby girl died. It was a difficult time and I was angry with you for allowing that to happen. Then one day I remembered that You also lost a child and I began to realize that through loss, we had something in common. Without me even realizing, You had answered my prayer.”
Written sometime as I began to come out of the fog…
Our daughter Faith would have been 11 years old today. I am not trying to start a theological debate about God’s perfect will versus His permissive will, by what I wrote above. I just remember it was a great confort to me when I realized that Father God could genuinely identify with my pain and my loss.
Last year some dear friends of ours also lost their daughter just after birth. As they navigated the pain and bewilderment of the situation, I faced my own memories of giving birth to a still born daughter. One can never imagine the emotional pain that accompanies such an experience, nor can one going through it imagine the pain will ever end. But after 11 years I can promise…the pain does end! It does not last forever.
In John 16:33 Jesus warns us that in this world we will have trouble. Later in the first chapter of James we are encouraged to count it all joy when we face various trials because they produce in us steadfastness. Rest assured we are never promised an easy life. We will experience difficulties, but through those dark times Christ promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
As you walk through your own difficulties I pray that you will find hope in knowing that you are not alone. God too has suffered and through your suffering you are becoming more like Him.
One day as I walked through that dark season a good friend looked at me and said, “Your face is smiling, but your eyes are not.” After 11 years, this I can promise you. You will begin to smile again and it won’t just be superficial.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…