Last weekend my hubby and I took some of our church’s worship team to the Mission Worship conference in Eastbourne – I highly recommend it! It’s a fantastic weekend where worship leaders and teams come together to worship God and are encouraged by speakers and worship leaders who have years of experience in leading and walking close with God. I learnt so much from this weekend, and so my next few blogs will be looking in deeper at some of the things I learnt.
Something that really resonated with me at the weekend was how we relate to people. It’s easy to get annoyed and frustrated, or misunderstand each other and allow differences to cause a problem when we make the mistake thinking that unity means uniformity! Pete Greig (24-7 Prayer International) shared that he used to get very frustrated and impatient with the person doing the song words at church as they kept putting the words up late. This continued until one Sunday when his attitude changed completely. That week, the words were still late, but this week he was gracious, patient and even encouraging to the person doing the words. Why? What was the difference? Because this week, the person doing the words was his son! His Father’s heart gave him a completely different perspective on the situation.
This cut me to the core: how often have I got frustrated with someone, lost my patience and jumped straight into defence mode. Yet with my son I try to be patient and understanding. I will take the time to teach and model something to him. I love him, praise him when he’s doing well, and gently correct him when he’s going wrong. I am not a perfect parent by any means and get it wrong many times. What I am saying is that I act differently towards my child. This reminded me of our Heavenly Father, and His perfect love for us. This is the love and model that we should be following. In the Bible we read that we are adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1vs5), we share in the inheritance and identity of being children of God, He shows us value (Matthew 6vs26), mercy (Luke 6vs 36), incredible grace (Ephesians 2 vs8), unending love (Romans 5vs8) and provides for our every need (Phil 4vs19).
This challenged me as I need to remember in situations where I am getting frustrated and annoyed at people, I should be praying for strength to see these people with eyes of love, grace and patience. It is not in our own strength (Phil 4vs13) that we have to overcome differences and difficulties but by walking in the strength and grace of Jesus. This type of love and grace is lavished so freely upon us (1 John 3vs1) by our Heavenly Father, and we need to learn how to lavish that on other people.
This really helped me in a situation the other day. I was at a soft play centre with my little boy. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a commotion going on and turned to see a mother telling off another child for biting her son. Immediately (ashamedly), I thought ‘oh goodness, a biter’! I then saw the mum hardly react, she apologised to the parent and child. Took her son and gently encouraged him to play nicely. My immediate thoughts were ‘for goodness sake, that’s not the way to do it – how will the child learn discipline and boundaries?” You get the picture. At that moment, whilst I was sitting there in self-righteousness and judgement, I felt God gently convict me and told me to look again at the situation, and this time to see through his eyes, to remember that he had created this mother and son and loved them very much. What I saw brought me to tears and stopped me in my tracks. Instead of seeing a biter, a ‘difficult and naughty child’ I saw a precious little boy who was hampered by learning difficulties that made it difficult for him to understand how to communicate, and out of fear and frustration would lash out at other children. I saw a mother who adored her child, but was at her wits end of seeing him being judged and branded as ‘naughty’ or a ‘bad child’, simply because he couldn’t communicate. She was doing her utter best to love and discipline this child but who was exhausted and lived her life in fear of what people would say. Once I had opened up my eyes and seen the reality of the situation, and allowed myself to feel God’s compassion and love for this lady I was able to reach out and encourage her to tell her what a good job she was doing and to praise her son. When I got over myself and looked through eyes of love, compassion and mercy I was able to listen to God’s voice and was able to minister to her.
I wanted to share this story to encourage you to look deeper, to allow God to move your heart and see those around you through a different perspective, through the eyes of your Heavenly Father…and allow Him to minister grace and love in these situations. This is something I pray each day that I could learn more and see God working incredibly in these situations.