I have a family member, I will call them Thorn (since they are an ongoing thorn in my side). I love them deeply, but they are like a very course sandpaper to me at times. As the people we love most often are. Our biggest challenge is our communication styles. Thorn and I have a language style that is so different, we can sometimes fight even when we are on the same page, because we simply can’t understand what the other is saying. It’s not intentional by either of us. It is simply a different thought processes that try as we might, can easily become confusing and frustrating.
As I have been fasting and praying for the Lord to break me, to spring forth ever more fruits of the Spirit in me, Thorn has become more confrontational and reactive to me. It always goes this way. Whenever I seek more of God, He responds with more refining.
I went to my “closet” and prayed for Father to reveal what I should do to walk in His way through this situation.
I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. Psalm 57:2
As Jesus would have it, He compelled me not to go back and try to fix the problem. Instead He urged in the Spirit to go clean our kitchen chairs. I didn’t understand why this would be His response. I want to fix this frustration, and want Him to help me right it. Instead, of gaining understanding of what to say or do, I felt convicted to simply go clean chairs.
I must confess, I really wanted God to correct thorn and right what was wronged on my behalf. Oh wretched man that I am.
After a time of wrestling with God, with begrudging hands I got a bowl of soapy water and a rag. I sat down and began to wipe the 1st chair. But that wasn’t quite right, He further instructed me to get a scrubbing brush and cotton swabs. To sit and really focus on each detail of the chair, to inspect for any spots that needed extra attention, check the screws, inspect for hidden dirty spots underneath, which no one sees. Further, do it not for the sake of cleanness, but for the sake of doing it well in the sight of my Father.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
As I began the tedious task the Holy Spirit suddenly grew in me a desire to give 100% to this chore, realizing I was doing it for His eyes only. As I really leaned in to it, I lost sight of my anger, my hurt, my ego. And I began to pray that God would give me a kinder spirit, that He would remove the confusion in our midst. I began to think loving thoughts about thorn, I began to understand that this fighting affects them too. It became more and more as I cleaned and prayed, not about getting thorn to see it my way, but rather how am I reflecting Jesus in the situation. How am I trusting Him to direct my heart in the midst of battle, rather than trying to do it in my flesh?
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12
I went on to clean all 6 chairs, slowly and with care. By the time I finished, I no longer cared about the subject we were fighting about. I was instead reflecting on the many times I have been unjustly angry at God. Or willfully disobeyed. Yet He has had infinite compassion on my shortcomings, and graciously forgives me when I stumble. In light of that, I had compassion for thorn and I repented of my selfish motives.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Even though thorn still had hostility when I finished cleaning those chairs, I had none. I approached thorn humbly even though it felt like I was trying to hug a cactus, there was so much hostility. I looked past the anger and kept my heart focused on leaning into Jesus. I was able to react in love and respect, till thorn began to relax and gave up trying to revive the fight. There wasn’t a resolution, just a cease fire. But still, I walked away feeling at peace and was able to receive more of the love of Jesus in the midst of it.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Does this mean that there won’t be more conflict with thorn or that I will now be perfect in my responses? Oh how I wish that were true. However, Conflict and hardship is how I learn to lean into Jesus. Trials no matter how big or small are a refinement to me.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 1 Corinthians 3:13
He is my good good Father, who corrects and reproves. He gives me more faith, the more I trust Him and accept His instruct, both through His word and in the Spirit. Even when I don’t always initially understand it.
Who knew a simple task of chair cleaning would bring about such profound understanding. Jesus … that’s who.