People come and go in our lives. God has a purpose for each of them in our lives. Some are there to encourage, provide and mentor us, and then there are THOSE ones. You know, the ones who hate you for no reason, who torment and bully you, the ones who use you and abuse you. THOSE ones. The deal is this: We get to choose how we respond to them and the effects they have on our lives. That is all a part of free will, and HOW we respond to THOSE ones makes all the difference in our lives.
I sat down and attempted to classify all of these people and the effects they had on my life, according to American Grading standards, from A to F. Initially, as I was thinking about this A would be those that had the most positive effect in my life and F would be those who were epic failures. However, in looking back and seeing the actual effects, I had to rethink this. Let me explain.
There were those in my life I classified as “A”. Those were the people who rescued me from dire circumstances, who mentored me and sheltered me. At first I thought that they were the ones who had the greatest effect on my life. And to be truthful, they did have the most positive effects, however, then I looked at the “F’s”. These were the people who plotted to ruin my life, who I allowed to stumble in and destroy everything, and who viciously continued to plot against me. These were the ones who hated me for no reason. But in looking back, what I see is that there was One great “A”, the Lord Himself. He mentored, sheltered, provided and picked me back up when I had ruined everything or allowed someone else to do the work for me.
The story of David and Saul in the Bible comes to mind. At first, Saul loved David, mostly because he loved the comfort his music brought him, and then because of his slaying of the giant, Goliath, and how it encouraged Israel to rally to fight the Philistines. It didn’t take long for all that worldly love that Saul had to turn to jealousy, then hatred. He went so far as to attempt to kill David. Many times.
And David’s response? He would not talk bad about Saul, or allow anyone else to. He loved him so much that when he heard that Saul had died, that he mourned and fasted. In spite of the death threats and trials Saul had put him through, David loved him. And because David honored Saul, because he guarded his own integrity, and because he kept believing that the Lord would protect him, God upheld him as long as he lived. He grew strong and wise through the trials that Saul put him through.
As I looked back, the pieces of my life fell into line and I realized I had made a dire mistake in the classifications. For those I had classified as “F’s”, the ones who had plotted my destruction by cruelty, by abandonment, by their ignorance, really had the biggest effect on my life. For it was in those ‘valley” seasons, my spirit grew. It was under the stress of hatred and abuse, difficulties and sorrows, that God allowed me to see that I was His, and He would never abandon me. In good times and bad, through sorrow, struggles and shame, He has always been there, even when I could not see it. And it was in these times, as my faith grew, I grew stronger. And I even learned to LOVE THOSE who hated me.
Because of God’s great love, how I responded to those times helped me more than anything. When some attempted to plant bitterness in my heart, the Lord showed me how it would affect me just as it had them. For some who abandoned me in my time of need, the Lord showed me that He would never abandon me. And for those ones who hated me with no reason, the Lord showed me that Love, His love, would cover all my hurt and shame. Some of those were even brought back by that same great Love.
So I want to thank the “F’s”, for it was through your actions I grew. It was through your lack of love, I learned to love, no matter what. It was through your abandonment, I learned never to give up on someone, no matter what. And as you plotted for my destruction, I learned to pray for your redemption.
And for the “A’s”, I watched your example, I saw your love, that it was real and true. You gave me a compass to guide my life, and empowered me with the one thing that would cover all the “F’s”.
That one thing is Love.
Because Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13
The Way of Love
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.