The writer of Proverbs says in 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." When I was a mechanic you would often use a grindstone to take off a rough edge or even sharpen a lawn mower blade or chisel. Occasionally your hand might slip and run a knuckle or arm into the grinding wheel. This was not a very pleasant experience, but that grind stone on iron is what it takes to sharpen iron. As Christians we need that experience in our lives to help sharpen us for the Christian walk. I want to share a little of how I was sharpened.
I wasn't raised in a strong Christian home and church was occasional at best. In high school youth group was popular and it helped set some foundation. But following high school I dropped church and progressed in the alcohol scene and work. When I met my wife the alcohol slowed and we had our two children. In January of 1984 with a toddler and a preschooler we brought my half sisters seven and eleven year old to live with us. Their parents were divorced and their mother had left them with my parents while she went to see a guy in prison. She never came back to get them even though she was within ten miles. These kids had never seen a dentist and rarely a doctor. As we learned over time they had been physically and emotionally abused. The girl might have been sexually abused as well. The boy told us many times that quite often they only had mayo and beer in the refrigerator. We took these kids in and loved them as our own eventually legally adopting them.
All along we knew they had a lot happen in their short lives. I had begun to grow in my faith and we were very involved in a church. The kids went and seemed to be getting the idea of a Savior. We provided counseling and did everything we could to help put the past behind them. But the harder we worked the worse it seemed to get. We learned that when the girl was supposed to be working she was often with a guy and she got pregnant and had a baby at 18. She ran away the beginning of her senior year and lived with different friends until she graduated. The boy began running away in junior high and we eventually had to put him in SRS custody so they could place him in a group home. He eventually got himself into enough trouble that he was in prison for some time. All the while we were asking ourselves what is going on here. Why is God doing these things to us. We prayed, we enlisted the prayers of the church family and we constantly turned the situation over to God.
Page 2 of 2 - I don't tell you these things to get sympathy, and I don't tell you to puff myself up. I do tell you though that during these ten years our faith was being sharpened and after entering the ministry in 1994 we could look back and say that was what God was doing. He was preparing us for full time pastoral ministry. Because of these experiences I have been able to listen to other parents and understand their pain.
My question to you is what is God doing to sharpen you. It might be a troubled child, it might be a failed marriage, the drought, a cancer diagnosis or the death of someone close to you. It might even be the continued trauma of the tornado or depression. Whatever it is remember Paul's words in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Does this mean we don't have pain and suffering, no. My wife and I wept and struggled to the point of exhaustion, but we would do it all over again, knowing we were in God's will. So when the tough times come and they will remember being sharpened can be painful, but God has a plan for each of us which we are being prepared for, and that is to make disciples. Go and prepare for your calling.
We invite you to come worship with us and we'll work to sharpen each other.