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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: Sanding
By Lee Ann Rubsam
12/11/07


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“Fulfill my joy, being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or self-glorying, but in lowliness of mind let each of you esteem others better than yourselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus....” -- Philippians 2:2-5

I sat back in my recliner, convicted by this powerful Scripture passage. It had been the cry of my heart for ever so long to be the mirror-image of Jesus, but with the longing also came the inevitable testing of how much I really wanted it. It seemed as though every time I turned around there was another opportunity to choose between striving and yielding. I fought hard against my flesh to avoid the striving, but yielding all the time was pretty frustrating, too.

“God, why do some of us always have to defer, while some people just trample all over everyone else and get away with it? Why do You let people like that get what they want in Your Church?” My owies were stinging once again. I could relate perfectly to how Paul felt when he wrote 2 Corinthians 12:7. I was sure that a couple of people in our church family were my particular “thorns in the flesh,” messengers of Satan sent to buffet me, and I wasn’t feeling that there was too much danger of being “exalted above measure” as long as they were around! If we were all one body, each of us individual parts with a purpose, it was hard for me to see Jack and Katie as a hand and a foot – maybe a hangnail and a blister, but definitely not the more useful parts.

“God, don’t they ever read these verses? Why do I have to be the one who gets convicted about esteeming others better than myself? Don’t they see that they have a huge problem?”

I already knew the answer, so there wasn’t much point in discussing it any further with Him. No matter how badly other people acted, I had to adjust my own attitude and let Him deal with theirs. They were doing their striving on the outside, but I had just as much of a striving problem on my inside. If I were really as lowly of heart as I imagined myself, I would not be chafing over minor offenses. So once again, I tried to humble myself and do the right thing.

“Holy Spirit, I can’t do this on my own. Help me love and respect Jack and Katie. Help me give place to them and want what’s best for them, even though they aren’t nice.”

It wasn’t easy to pray that way, and living it out was even harder. I had to pray it many times, and my success with the living-it-out part was less than desirable. There were fresh incidents that needed to be forgiven. There were frequent opportunities to go through the internal struggle all over again. But gradually, God worked in my heart. Jack developed health problems, and to my surprise, I was truly concerned for him, and prayed sincerely for his recovery. I felt less angry with him and more sorry for him. He had to be an unhappy person inside, or he wouldn’t be the way he was. Tensions between Katie and me lessened, and I found myself enjoying a little pleasant conversation with her here and there. Achieving a right attitude was an uphill climb, but the Lord was really helping me, even though it was a slow victory.

Jack eventually left the church. I can’t say that I felt sorry to see him go, but by the time he left, I had conquered many of my feelings toward him, and wasn’t spending much time thinking about him anymore. If he had stayed, I think it really would have been all right. Katie stayed, but I got to the point where I had kindly thoughts toward her and was even delighted when good things came into her life.

Sometimes God purposefully puts people in our lives who rub us the wrong way. He uses them to sand the rough edges off of us. It’s a painful process, but it is intended to make us beautiful, like His Son. That’s what I had asked for, wasn’t it? – to be the mirror-image of Jesus.


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Member Comments
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Joanne Sher 12/15/07
Very insightful piece with much for all to learn from. Great title, too - fits your piece perfectly.
Catrina Bradley 12/16/07
I loved this entry! Quoteable lines: "If we were all one body, each of us individual parts with a purpose, it was hard for me to see Jack and Katie as a hand and a foot – maybe a hangnail and a blister, but definitely not the more useful parts." made me snort with laughter. "If I were really as lowly of heart as I imagined myself, I would not be chafing over minor offenses." SO TRUE! "I had to pray it many times, and my success with the living-it-out part was less than desirable."

Your voice is so casual, yet eloquent, and the touch of satirical humor gives your essay life. The lesson is awesome. Well Done! :) Cat