“. . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17).
One summer my mom asked me to repaint the porch swing so I grabbed some paint and brushes from the shed and headed toward the porch. She stopped me and said, “You have to prep it before you can paint.” We went back into the shed and she pulled out the electric sander and said, “You have to sand off the old paint and get the wood smooth.” And so I set to work, day after day sanding every inch of that swing. The wood had to be as smooth as glass before she pronounced it ready for primer and paint. That was more work than I bargained for, but in the end, that swing looked awesome!
When God wants to make a person ready for Himself, He also uses divine sandpaper to take off the layers of sin and worldliness and to smooth off our jagged edges. Sometimes He uses circumstances and situations that are rough – an illness, a job loss, a financial setback, sudden losses, unexpected responsibilities. But most of the time He uses people – at least it’s been true for me.
God has used “sandpaper people” to scrape off judgment and arrogance, to rub off selfishness, and strip away my “victim mentality.” He used some of them to sand out my attitude of self-righteousness, to teach me humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, patience, and forgiveness. But most of all, He exploded my understanding about His unconditional love when He called me to be a conduit of love into others’ lives. Every person 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 rubs you the wrong way? Maybe they are the very ones He is using to prepare you. Maybe they are there to teach you some valuable lessons about grace, compassion, forgiveness, or discernment. Ask God what He’s up to in your life and 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 is a soul God loves and Jesus died to save. That’s reason enough to love them.