February 16, 2016
Then the people brought their little children to Jesus. His followers told them to stop, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don't stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children’" (Matthew 19:13-14, NCV).
Friend to Friend
Life is not a series of accidents but a succession of divine appointments. That interruption we complain about, that intrusion we resent is simply a window of opportunity sent by God.
God uses the intrusive sandpaper person to rub off and sand away those attitudes and desires that are not wholly pleasing to Him. Like a well-sharpened scalpel, God uses difficult relationships to carve away the sinful mind-set that time is ours to arrange and spend, and that relationships are ours to dictate.
Our response to sandpaper people would drastically change if we adopted the perspective of building into every day’s schedule margins of time that allow for divine interruptions.
One Saturday night, our daughter Danna and I were invited to join a group of people from church for dinner. I did not really want to go. I was tired. I was broke, and I had not planned on spending the two hours it would take for our large group to eat. But Danna really wanted to go, so I gave in – with great reluctance and a fairly bad attitude.
As I suspected, it took a long time for our party to be seated at the restaurant. But what made matters worse was the fact that one of the grittiest sandpaper people in my life was also waiting in line and decided to join us for dinner. Why? “Oh, I need to talk to you,” she said when she spotted me. Lovely!
My sandpaper person began to share a legitimate problem she was having in her life. I had no idea she was facing the challenge she described. It made me realize that there just might be a reason for her abrasive behavior. I asked the Father to forgive me for my bad attitude and tried to help her find a solution.
When the waitress finally made it to me, I turned to Danna for her order – only to discover she hadn’t even opened her menu. In fact, she was staring across the room at what I suspected was some cute guy. But when I followed her stare, I was surprised to discover that the object of her attention was a little boy with Down’s syndrome. It was obvious that the child’s mother was tired and frustrated as she tried in vain to feed her son his dinner. “Mom, I have to go see him,” Danna said. Before I could list even one reason it would be a bad idea to do so, she was standing in front of the little boy’s table, introducing herself to his parents.
For thirty minutes, I watched the almost magical way my daughter interacted with Randy, entertaining him with napkins and menus, whispering secrets meant only for his ears, making him laugh while persuading him to eat his unwanted dinner. Carrying Randy from table to table, Danna introduced him to virtually everyone in the restaurant. Randy’s mom looked at me with tear-filled eyes and said, “Thank you for being here and for bringing your daughter. I was so tired and discouraged that we came here to get out of the house, something I don’t often get to do. Your daughter has reminded me just how special my son really is.”
I thought back for a moment. I thanked God that He had graciously overridden my selfish attitude and used a divine interruption to help me encourage a woman in need and used my daughter to encourage a weary mom and delight a special little boy.
Lord, please fill my heart with Your love for the sandpaper people in my life. Please let me see them as You see them. Use them, Father; to refine me to the place that I am the woman You created me to be. I choose to thank You for the difficult relationships in my life, knowing that through these abrasive people, Your work is accomplished in me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- Write the name of your toughest sandpaper person in your journal.
- Pray for that sandpaper person.
- Thank God for bringing that difficult person into your life. What do you believe God wants to accomplish through this sandpaper person? Are you willing to trust Him enough to praise Him for that person?
More from the Girlfriends
Loving the unlovable is impossible – outside of God’s power and strength. Pray that God will give you His eyes to see the hurting and wounded He brings your way. And remember the timeless truth that hurt people…hurt people. The book, Sandpaper People, is my life story of how God taught me to deal with difficult people. Check it out!
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