I considered myself up to the task. It wasn't that big of a deal. All I had to do was complete a project when one of the participants had a difficult personality. I'd done it before. I was a good person, certainly capable of dealing with someone who is a little crusty on the edges. I knew when I read in my daily devotions on the subject of dying to self, it was about dealing with this person. I thought it was God saying to me, You can do it. You can be like Christ with this person. You have arrived, go for it.
When I failed miserably I tried several strategies to explain my fault. First,I tried going over all her shortcomings. How could anyone withstand the numberof insults I had to endure? It was she that was so bad. Anyone would have thebad feelings I experienced. If she weren't that bad, I could have done it, butshe sent me over the edge. That strategy just kept me sinking deeper into thepit of the sin caused by my anger with her. Then I got down on myself. I toldGod what a bad person I was. Even with all His warnings and encouragement fromScripture I couldn't keep the right focus and I failed. He believed in me andI let Him down. He believed I was capable of more than I could produce; whata failure I had been.
Finally, I stopped long enough to listen to Him. He had a totally different purposein assigning me this task. He wanted to show me what was really in me. I am socommitted to ignoring the reality of my sin that He needs special people to bringthe truth about me to light. The spiritual lesson was for me to see what is reallyinside me. I have to recognize it and how my own selfishness and inability tolove is taking up space that I want to clear out to make room for God. I don'tlike to look at it, but there is a lot that needs to be redeemed. 1 Corinthians4:5 says, Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till theLord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will exposethe motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praisefrom God.
God was using this incident and the aftermath of feelings I experienced to bringlight to what was hidden in me. I don't like to look at it. I don't want to beexposed. But it is His kindness that exposes what keeps me from following Him.In spite of my failure to love my friend well, God showed me on a deeper levelhow much He loves me. It was about me after all. Not about my ability, or aboutmy failure, but mostly about how much I am loved by Him.
God showed me how relating to this difficult person revealed what is really inme. He showed me how that part of me needs to be acknowledged before it can bedealt with. What began as failure to love well, ended in a deeper revelationof whom I really am and how much God really loves me in spite of it.