Learning to Live through Suffering and Be Sharpened by Grace

Breath Prayer for your week: "Loving God, make me able to love all people."

When facing death, your own or the death of a loved one, I have learned it is not "iron sharpening iron," but iron being sharpened.  Whether by stone or sharpener, it matters little, your life is brought into focus and what matters least, what needs to be cast aside, is done a bit at a time.  We are not left the same but, by grace, I think we do get some say about how we will end up (This is part of our being freed from sin which I will touch on in an upcoming YouTube video).

One of the more difficult parts of this is how loving others and forgiveness plays into the sharpening. I just cannot seem to shake the nagging work of the Holy Spirit convicting me of this particular element.  It is not just forgiving we are called to do though.  We are called to love.  Love not just family and friends.  Not just acquaintances or that person who stole our parking space at Wal-Mart.  We are called to even love our enemies.  On this account, Jesus did not mince words:But  love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and  you will be sons of  the Most High, for  he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35) 

We (myself included) are having a really difficult time with this it seems. Sadly, Christians today seem no longer intent on labeling those we disagree with on opinions of Scriptural interpretation and application. No, now we will cozy up to any group, any political party and seek to discredit and humiliate other believers because they do not "love" as we love or "seek God" by our definition. What is sharpening me is the fact my wife is dying and this has made me keenly aware the problem is not that I disagree with people on both sides. The diagnoses Jesus is giving is that I'm not loving these people AND I may even consider them an enemy. This is MY problem, not their's. Jesus does not say post and parade about with my superior stance. Jesus calls ME to do something just like HE did something and that was to love enough to die for enemies.

So let me suggest this idea for you to take on. As you pray this prayer, consider someone (or someones) you struggle getting along with. Rather than say "all people" insert their name. If you are dealing with a hidden bigotry, consider praying for that people group. Breath prayers are simple prayers. I did not say they would be easy. 
 (For more on Simple Prayer, go to my YouTube video)


Cynthia Astle said...

Two thoughts, Brother Ken:

1. I'd like to repost this on United Methodist Insight.

2. I'm one of those to whom the Holy Spirit is speaking through you. I have a severe conflict with a brother at our church who I perceive to be constantly cutting me down as we work together in leadership. Starting today I will pray the breath prayer for him every day.

3. You and Heather and your family are regularly in my prayers. I have placed you all on the prayer list at our church. I now ask for your prayers in return, as my dearly beloved mother-in-law, 81, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She can't survive surgery and is opting out of chemo or radiation, so we are already at the hospice stage. She is a true lover of Jesus and that has guided her life. Her impending passing will wound our family deeply. Thank you for your prayers.

Cynthia Astle said...

That previous post actually turned into three thoughts, didn't it? :-)

Ken Hagler said...

Hey Cynthia, been a crazy week and just saw your note. As always, if you feel my words would fit with something in UM Insight, you are always welcome to use it. Thank you for sharing how the prayer has been meaningful for you too! I have been praying it as well (isn't that physician heal thyself?) And for #3, send me an e-mail or msg on FB with her name and I'll add her to our prayer list at BUMC.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

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