A few years back I sent a note to a friend asking how things were going; particularly with her husband since he had recently been diagnosed with the early stages of dementia.
Her reply was that she felt God was using this latest development in her life as sandpaper to help scrape off all the rough edges that were still in her life.
But the more I think about it, the more accurate that term becomes in our walks with God. We need those “sandpaper moments” in order to make us more beautiful as children of God – both inside and out.
Have you had “sandpaper moments?” I’m sure you have.
One that happened to me a few years ago came out of the blue. I really felt I was supposed to get involved in a certain ministry at a church we attended for a short while. I prayed a lot, and felt I got confirmation from both the Lord – as well as a good friend who had also been praying. So I moved forward.
Everything seemed to be going great, then one day I received an extremely nasty email from one of the leaders of the church, basically stating I was being pompous and boastful in what I was feeling led to do, and that if I felt my way was so much better than what they were already doing in the church, “I had a problem.”
After feeling the sandpaper scraping me painfully, I went and laid myself before the Lord. And I felt led to write back apologizing, even though I really felt this person had taken what had happened way out of context.
Let’s just say things escalated from there. My apology seemed to go nowhere. My husband Gary even tried to contact this person because he felt things had been misunderstood, as well, but this person refused to take any of his calls!
As a matter of fact, one day after Gary had left a message, he received an email from this same person acknowledging that he’d received his voicemails, but if Gary was calling to tell him that he’d sinned in sending me the email, to not bother, as he had not sinned.
His note continued that if we wanted to become more involved at church, we needed to get on board with the programs already in place.
Gary is quite good at just letting things like that slide, but I was crushed. Had I really been so wrong in what I’d said and done? I hadn’t thought so.
Soon after I got confirmation from the Lord who reminded me of Mordecai’s words to Queen Esther when the Jews were about to be annihilated in Esther 4:14: “Who knows if you were not put in this place for just such a time as this?”
I was so thankful for God’s words of encouragement to me, yet I still struggled. I never wanted to cause any trouble!
One morning as I was having my devotional time, I came to Psalm 57, and the words penned by King David became such a sweet soothing presence to me. I read of how David’s soul took refuge and found shelter and confidence in God (v. 1); how God would save him from the slanders and reproaches of those trampling him down (v. 3); how his heart was fixed upon Him, steadfast and confident (v. 7); and that he knew God’s mercy and loving-kindness reached to the heavens (v. 10-11).
It says in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT):
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Oh to remember that God sometimes places us in uncomfortable positions to help us grow!
Through all that, I learned so much. It’s given me an awareness that I really hadn’t had before about the inner workings of ministry.
My husband and I know a couple who love to pickup old pieces of furniture people have discarded. They then take it to their workshop, and slowly start scraping and scraping with their sandpaper until a beautiful piece of furniture appears underneath.
So keep scraping me, Lord. I want to be all that You want me to be.