“I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel” (Ezekiel 14:5).
As I pray each day for my granddaughter, I also pray for the people that will touch her life. I pray for her future friends, caregivers, teachers, beaus, bosses and coworkers, and the man that she will one day marry. I pray that they will be people who love the Lord, have a passion for His will and will help her achieve God’s purpose in her life. I always ask Him to surround her with godly people. But I know that there will be people who will come into her life that will not be godly. They are what I call “sandpaper people” – gritty and abrasive people who rub us the wrong way. I’ve had more than a few of them cross my path and I image you have too. They are the people who frustrate and annoy us, who take advantage of us, fail to keep their word, who lie and who take more than they give. They hurt us, mistreat us, abandon us and yes, even abuse us. They make life hard and painful. But they are there for a purpose. For what does sandpaper do? It smooths the rough surface. Likewise sandpaper people are God’s tool for smoothing off our rough edges.
God used some of those sandpaper people to scrape off judgment and arrogance. He placed some of them in my life to rub off selfishness and to remove my “victim mentality.” He used some of them to sand out my attitude of self-righteousness. And He used them to teach me humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, and forgiveness. Through them He opened a tiny window into His amazing grace. He taught me about prayer – oh how I learned to pray about some of these abrasive and hurtful people – for me and for them. He also taught me about discernment and wisdom, for some of those people were there because I foolishly invited them in. He exploded my understanding about His unconditional love, then asked me to be a conduit of that love into other’s lives. Let me tell you, when God uses you to love someone to Christ, you will never consider another soul as a “hopeless mess.” I confess that I complained – a lot and loudly – about some of the people who rubbed me the wrong way – but every one of them taught me something God wanted me to know and each one left an indelible mark on my life – some imprints of grace and forgiveness, some scars of wisdom, and some cracks in the wall I had built around my heart.
Beloved, who has God brought into your life that you sometimes wish wasn’t there? Can you look at them through His eyes? Maybe they are the very ones He is using to remove something that keeps you from fulfilling His purpose for your life. Maybe they are there to teach you some valuable lessons about grace, compassion, forgiveness or discernment. They may be in your life so that you can love them to Jesus—or so that you can become more like Jesus. Ask God what He’s up to in your life and in theirs. Not every relationship is going to be sunshine and roses – some people will bring on the rain. But rain makes the roses grow and their fragrance is a sweet aroma. Above all remember – every person – even the one who rubs you the wrong way – is a soul God loves and Jesus died to save. That’s reason enough to love them.