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The point I started with yesterday… yes, I got sidetracked by the Spirit as I was writing… but now back to my original idea. As I was saying, I have found that sometimes there are people who just rub me the wrong way. And I’ve been doing a lot of wondering about what that means, and why there always seems to be such people in my life. Yesterday I basically talked about the mote and the log concept – why would I try to take a tiny little speck out of your eye when there is a virtual log jam in my own. If I see something in you that rubs me the wrong way, then I had better spend some time before the Lord looking within myself to discover what is in me first. That is part of the answer.

And I also suspect it equally has to do with intercessory prayer. It is not God’s design that I stay self focused. Life is not all about me – for good or for bad. Not only do I need to check in with myself (check out yesterday’s blog here if you missed it), I also need to seek Father’s heart FOR you! Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it this way (which, by the way, was the sacred echo inspiration behind these posts):

A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner.
(Check it out:Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

I think the best analogy I know of for this side of the equation is that of the pearl.

Think about it. What does it take for God to get your attention? When do you slow down long enough to really listen to Him, to seek His face and hear His heart? Is it when things are going along smoothly and all is right with your world? For most of us, and definitely I can speak of for myself, that is not likely. We usually sail along just fine under our own strength and intellect when all is right (or so we think anyway). But when things get rough or uncomfortable, then our attention begins to turn and we usually begin to grumble and complain against the discomfort.

It’s just like an oyster who suddenly finds that there is some tiny little thing, a mere grain of sand, that has crept into its shell and lodged itself right next to its heart. (Okay, so I don’t literally mean its heart.) But what does that oyster do when that tiny grain of sand shows up? It starts paying attention to that grain of sand – big time. It responds to the irritant. In fact, it starts patiently covering that grain of sand. Layer upon layer. Until one day, that grain of sand is fully transformed and becomes a sought-after, treasured pearl.

Hmm, perhaps oysters have a better relationship to the Lord than we humans do. Cause covering the irritations, or the irritants, isn’t usually our first response, we usually are far more reactive.

Sometimes we run.
Sometimes we fight.
Sometimes we gossip.
Sometimes we point fingers and cast blame.
Sometimes we rail.
Sometimes we jump ship and land in shark infested waters.
And sometimes, just like the ostrich, we just stick our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist.

But none of those responses leads us to the Father heart of God.
And none of them really does us any good in the long run.

And God is all about the long run. Yes, He is in the little details as well, but His eye is on the big picture, and He knows what it will take for us to be completed and perfected in light of His big picture for us all.

So, here’s an idea for you to try out. Next time you cross paths with one of those folks in your life that just always seems to rub you the wrong way – STOP! Take a deep breath and start covering that one with prayer. Layer upon layer. Every time that irritation comes to your attention once again, add another layer. Be the one to stand in the gap on behalf of that one. Cry out to God for healing and redemption and let Him break your heart on his or her behalf, just as His heart is broken for you when you are turned away from Him. Ask Him for His eyes to see, His ears to hear, and His heart to feel… so that you can be His feet to bring His presence and His hands to lift that one up.

Slowly but surely this is becoming my response more often and more quickly – without as much resistance and fuss as I’ve displayed in the past.

If together we commit to grow in our ability to cover each and every irritant with layer upon layer of intercession and love, perhaps we will discover the world is filled with far more precious pearls than we ever imagined. And maybe, just maybe, we will even discover just how beautiful a pearl we are, too!

A beautiful pearl. Yep, that’s me. An old irritant covered in layers of prayers, shined to a perfect luster by the very breath of God and polished by His tender mercies!
Thank You, Jesus!!!