The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“As Iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.”
Whenever we were together I felt tension. It just seemed that his whole personality grated against me. We would be playing volleyball in the alley behind the house as a warm up before the ministry time got going. I was sensitive of the fact that we had neighbours around who might not appreciate the noise. Then Richard would score a point and it seemed that the whole world had to know. I would be cringing in my boots and dying a thousand deaths. And so it went on. This was not an isolated incident, it was one of a string that continually grated on me.
I know that it was not something that I kept to myself either. There were times when I must have made my irritation very plane, for in the end Richard approached me and asked me why it was that I found him so difficult. My attitude obviously upset him quite a bit. I take my hat off to him. Here was a situation where I had the problem and he sought me out to resolve it.
Yet why was it? It would be easy just to excuse it as some personality clash, but had not God created us both? Surely this could not be God’s desire that he would have certain children who could not live together because of the way he had made them.
I began to question my presuppositions. Was it really true that our neighbours were upset by the noise? We had never had any complaints, in fact far from it they seemed to be delighted that there were a group of young people having some fun, and fun in a way that was obviously uplifting. Was there anything sinful about giving an enthusiastic yelp at the scoring of a point? Clearly not. So, why was I so upset?
As I thought about it, I began to see that the issue was far more about me than him. Or at least if there was wrong in his camp then it was a brushing of two imperfect characters against one another. The proverbs say “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” (Prov 17:17 NIV) Yet when they sharpen, bits of metal have to come off, and when the sharpening is really serious the sparks fly. My over sensitivity in this situation was brushing against an under sensitivity in someone else. Given that we were in the States where on the whole people are louder than in Europe, I would have to say he was more likely to be in the right than I was. I had to respond by learning to accept things that grated against me emotionally, that made me cringe on the inside, and above all I had to apologise to my friend for my bad attitude.
A key element to my attitude had been that I was taking responsibility for the attitudes of our neighbours. I was being their official and unappointed noise control policeman. Here I was, trying to control a situation that was not under my control and for which I had no authority and little understanding. The marks of frustration are written all over such a situation. Sadly there would be many more years before I learnt about this aspect of letting go into the hands of God the behaviour and attitudes of other people. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim 2:5 NIV) He desires reconciliation first of all with himself, but then as the Lord and Father of each one of us, he brings us to reconciliation with each other. Thankfully, Richard came and sought reconciliation with me, and through that brought me to reconciliation with God.