Friday, August 30, 2013

Sandpaper Blessings

“I just had the most wonderful day. Everything seemed to go right.  It was great, every minute of it.”

Wouldn’t we all like to have days or even a day like that instead of feeling a bit frazzled?  Someone did, and they shared it on Facebook this week.  It was refreshing to read.

This person had been through several years of rough road, and that day was like a cool breeze from God giving him some relief.  Everyone that read the post was so happy for that person, understanding where he was at this point in his life journey.

Early on in the week I surely needed a day like that, you know the kind where you need a break from things and hope for a peaceful day.  There’s a woman I counsel that each time she comes, her life is in such turmoil that anyone who is near her needs a time out so that they don’t get angry.  She is continually asking God for peace in her life, but seems to be the one that steals it from others.

Roughing it Out
Do you have people like that in your life?  You know what I mean … the ones that bring storms with them all the time?  I have a term for those types of personalities called, “sandpaper people.” 

There are several kinds of these individuals or should I say, “levels” instead.  Just like there are different grades of sandpaper, there are levels to these personalities.  They range from smooth to really rough and abrasive.  If we had to be around sandpaper people I would venture to say that we would all prefer the easier grade, right?  But that’s not how it works.

God sends (allows) people in our lives that will ruffle our feathers as a test of our faith and integrity as believers in Christ.  He uses “sandpaper” personalities to refine us in becoming better servants and leaders for the Kingdom of God.  Believe it or not, if you don’t have anyone in your life that rubs you the wrong way, then either you aren’t being molded for greater things or you are the sandpaper.  At times, you can even be both!

Life as a Christian isn’t supposed to be a bed of roses and easy going all the time.  We should expect good and even great days, but as long as we are here on earth there will be trials that try to form against us.  Knowing who you are in Christ Jesus takes care of the sandpaper people.

“No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17 NKJV)

Thankfully, we have a weapon in the Word of God to shield us from the work of satan. God has promised us victory over circumstances, but who needs a victory if there isn’t a battle?  So, come on sandpaper, take your best shot!

“These things I (Jesus) have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

Jesus told us that in this world we will have tribulation (all sorts of sandpaper people) coming against us.  He went on to give us good news, “but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.”  Whenever you read the word “but” in the Bible it is a term that cancels out or changes what you previously read.   In knowing this, we should be looking for the “buts” in scripture, because something else is coming.

When the Sandpaper is At Work
This week my husband had to meet with a county board over an upcoming event.  His appointment was at 11 am, but the people were late. While he was waiting all sorts of things went through his mind.  The meeting was merely one of courtesy, because everything we were doing was legal.  It was out of respect for those in other positions of authority that we wanted to follow protocol. 
When he called me to say that he would have to wait, I planted some unwanted seeds in his head.  He called me on it and I responded, “Someone needs to stir the pot.”  Then as soon as I hung up I asked God to give him the patience and boldness he needed to speak with authority. 

Within the hour he returned home with a totally different countenance.  He went on to share what took place and that we were also granted the privilege of using the electric for free  for the occasion. 

So who was the sandpaper or abrasive spirit?  The person setting up the appointment in the first place, my husband, me or the other gentlemen?  We all had a part in it.  Some of us were lightly sanding while others were heavy duty, attitude removal sandpaper people.  All were needed I suppose, but not all were wanted or welcome visitors.

The bad thing about sandpaper is that it can do some damage if not handled properly. Harsh sandpaper personalities rub us the wrong way, and no one wants their outer skin removed!  Sometimes they don't even know they are getting to you, but they do because of how they handle a situation or it comes out in their tone of voice.  Then there are others who know what they are doing and do it intentionally.

However, the good points about this kind of attitude adjuster, is that it removes the tough outer layer of our hardened heart, and refines the surface making it smooth for us to receive correction.  Picture it like this. After a board goes through the sander, it comes out looking entirely different and new. When it is painted the surface is something to be desired and ready to be used.  The sanding process made it a better piece and more functional.
That's what the Lord wants to do with us.  A little sanding here, maybe some extensive blasting at times and then the finishing polish.  God gives us the grace to endure the sanding.  There is a catch though. Unless we have had some refining we cannot live or give what we don’t possess.  Peace comes from obedience ... ours to God.

When Grace = Peace
Do you remember the passage in scripture where the apostle Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his life that caused him continual suffering, anguish and pain?  What did God say, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  He didn’t say, “OK Paul, I know how much this hurts you so I’ll do what you say and let everything come to you easily.”  God told Paul, “No.”

 “And He (Jesus) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)

What exactly was the thorn that got in the way of Paul’s ministry and living a life in continual peace?  There has been much debate over this one.  Some believe it was an actual health issue, while others say it was a certain “sandpaper” person that continually caused problems for him wherever he went.

Abrasive people will cause your true personality to surface.  It’s where our humility is tested. 
Was Paul asking God to remove the sandpaper people from his life so he could get on with his work and living?  Don’t we do the same thing?  God’s grace however, allows us to keep going even while we are being refined. If we let God work in our hearts, we will see His power shine through and change the situation around us.  He provides what we need, all we have to do is take it.

Last week I expressed to someone something similar when she was being pushed to the limits at her job.  If God wanted to elevate her into a position of authority, she had to learn to get along with people without arguing or becoming offended.  This really takes God's grace for us to hold our tongues, but we have to in order to be effective Christians.

Believers in Christ are called to be leaders no matter what field it may be. Leadership positions require us to swallow our pride, understand abrasive behavior and channel it into another direction while remaining calm.

Anyone can blow up when they get ticked off.  Explosive behavior won’t win anyone to the Lord.  If we truly want to be used by God, we need to welcome the sandpaper personalities as a challenge, knowing that we are about to receive something special from the Lord.

When this lady explained the behavior of this person at work, I asked her if she ever confronted the individual and questioned if she could do anything for them.  Perhaps she was going through something and didn’t know how to handle it, and you might have a word of comfort you could give. 

Wouldn’t you know I would have to walk out my own advice, when the very thing happened to me at the check-out on Tuesday.  The cashier was in a really nasty mood.  Although I don't usually spout off, I actually noticed my temperament starting to change. Instead of getting angry at the lady I asked her if she was all right.  Her attitude changed and she explained the details of what she needed to get done before she could leave for the evening.  I’m glad I didn’t follow my emotions and become the sandpaper in her day.

Even if someone plum doesn’t like you, God can turn the situation around for your good, if you let Him refine you by removing your rough edges.  We need to have soft, compassionate hearts in order to be effective as Christians. That doesn’t mean we are to be door mats, but open to the situation so God can use it for His glory.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth so He can work in your life and give you the grace to withstand the test.

This week when you run into a situation where the sandpaper personalities start to do their work on your emotions, recognize what it is.  Let God work on the obstacles that come gift wrapped in sandpaper, so that you come out with a blessing.

Now don’t say this out loud, but think it when you see sandpaper people approaching:

“Hello sandpaper. Let’s see, what part of me needs to be removed and refined?  You may be here to do some damage, BUT, (remember what it means) I’m coming out of this better and with a more beautiful heart. 
God’s grace and blessing surround me. I live a life of daily favor and I’m going to have a really great day!”  

Have a great week! 
Until next time ... stay blessed and favored!

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior. 
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