How You Do That
We’ve all driven at ridiculous speeds on the interstate before. Just like life, the interstate goes fast and there are few rest stops that often have great distances between them. If we imagine the speed and distance we travel, it’s easily conceivable that we can get tunnel vision on the interstate and especially in life. Too often, we merge with a lack of awareness of our blind spots. We’ve all gone to switch from one lane to another, only to find that someone was there. It’s this same proximity of people that gives this abrupt awareness of said blind spots in our lives. When people get close to us relationally, they remind us of those areas of our lives we’re not quite aware of. Similar to driving, some people might just “slam on the breaks” and “swerve to avoid us” when this happens. Other people might not give us that much grace and in that case, we end up “colliding” with someone causing all sorts of damage. In either instance, when people find their way into blind spots, we often respond with shock, hostility, and sometimes we may even blame them for “being where they shouldn’t be.”
Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This verse does not apply to the potential collision of two vehicles, rather the collision of people, where someone comes out sharper and better equipped for use by God. An issue with our resistance to this process is the way we view ourselves, people, and even God. The carnal lens inherent to us all would argue that we are the blacksmiths, that we create all the things necessary for the lives we want for ourselves. I can only imagine what it would be like to walk in on someone attempting to alter a metal that I’d spent hours shaping, in a way that would please me. But isn’t that what relationships do? Oftentimes we find offense with the friction people cause because we take pride in the way we think we’ve shaped ourselves. The best way out of this distorted panorama is to put on a new lens, the greatest lens, the word of God. We must reorder the entire picture because the blacksmith was/is always God. We usually want to run from the very friction that God intends to use to shape us because we’ve not mentally put him in his proper place as God, and we’re trying to avoid the discomfort of sharpening. But it’s the sharpening that He uses to help us take our place as his tool to use for His Glory. The greatest use we could ever have is the purpose of God. His processes, however painful those might be, are fundamental preliminary steps that prepare and equip us to be used by him. No one ever preferentially chose a dull arrow to take to war with them. God is using the people that have been through the fire, under the hammer, and struck by the iron.
So, God uses people to sharpen us, but what does this look like? They mirror us. They point us to those hurt places with the decade-old bandages that desperately need attention. They spark emotions that we hadn’t felt in years because we preferred to avoid those feelings altogether. Mark 5:25-34 tells us the story of a woman who had a bleeding issue for twelve years. She must have evoked repulsion in people everywhere she went since the Jews would not be touched by a bleeding woman. I can imagine how this daily reminder could have plagued her, but then I wonder how it might have been the most painful blessing to her. These people mirrored to her that she had an issue so much so, that she could not hide it to her own demise. Because of this, she was emboldened with desperation to face the pain of her own reflection seen in the people around her and their response towards her. Moreover, she did all of this just so she could touch the fringe of the garment of Jesus himself in a desperate, last-ditch effort to experience the healing power of God. I can visualize the way the crowds of “mirrors” parted in response to her. They were reflecting her issue, her pain, her disgust, her hurt, her trauma, her imperfection, and in doing so, they were unknowingly paving her an access point to Jesus. Just think, if she’d been sulking in her house that day because of people, she would’ve died in the bondage of her issues, rather than experiencing the healing power of Jesus.
Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Every person that we encounter, no matter their disposition to us, has been strategically placed by God to produce results consistent with the goodness of God, and the calling he has placed on our lives. When we find that people have disturbed our blind spots, or magnified those unclean areas, we should rejoice all the more in knowing that if God exposed it, it’s because he planned to heal it. Allowing people to reflect what is in us in such a way that we get a clearer picture of ourselves is actually a gift from God, lest we never know and never be healed. At the end of it all, we should posture ourselves at all times in view of the most perfect mirror of all, Jesus himself. This should give us great encouragement to know that we have the Spirit of God helping us and until we can see ourselves in that mirror, God is not finished yet.
– Taya Wallace