“Sometimes those that are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most, Kristi,” she said. I winced at those words.
Hard people are hard to love. Period.
But her words were a gold mine. They always were. They dripped with wisdom at every syllable, so I took note.
I looked up to this blue-eyed beauty who was a tiny speck of 100 lbs., maybe (and that was wringing wet). She was an elementary school teacher and pastor’s wife and was highly gifted at both. The classroom kids oohed and awed over her in the way little kids do with adults who understand them. They read between the lines well: she truly loved them.
That wise woman was also my spiritual mentor. And her words were cutting through the fleshly barricade I had erected. Every spoken word was like a precision laser of the Lord, cutting through my heart of stone. The words of wisdom were tearing down the nonsense of my fleshly barrier.
But it didn’t tear down easily, because I simply didn’t want to draw close to “tough-to-love” people.
It wasn’t always convenient.
It certainly wasn’t comfortable.
And it cost.
That sounds so ugly, doesn’t it? But battles with the flesh are ugly. It’s when we get real, come clean, and allow vulnerability to have its day, that the power of God causes the ugly to subside. It’s there, in His presence, that beautiful transformation blossoms.
It wasn’t all about that hard-to-love person after all. It was equally about hard-to-love me.
Let’s face it: we all have issues, those areas that make us harder to love. Some are well hidden like a four-leaf clover, while others are as bold as a brilliant orange shirt in a sea of black.
One way or another, issues are there.
Now Saul? He was a man of issues. He hated Christians. Killed them. Mocked them. And breathed threats that upheld his lower-than-life view of any Jesus-loving human that touched the crust of Earth’s sphere.
But then came God and a man.
The Lord stopped Saul in his infamous dusty, on-the-way to Damascus tracks. (Acts 9) He left an eye-catching impression, you could say. God had Saul’s attention, and his transformation began its blossom.
Love him, draw him near, spend time with Saul, dusty, gritty feet and all. Something of that sort was Ananias’ charge from God.
Perhaps that’s our charge as well, for those “Sauls” in our life.
Have a head-on encounter with the ugliness of hatred and fear composing Saul’s world. Yes, Ananias, draw close. Allow Me to show Saul My power through your prayer and how he can get out of his ugly trench.
Hand Saul my ladder, Ananias. Go and hand it to him so he can climb out of the darkness of his world’s existence.
Indeed, Ananias did.
None stood in love’s way, not fear nor pride, inconvenience nor complacency.
Ananias loved that hard-to-love one.
And that hard-to-love one was transformed from Saul, a persecutor of Jesus lovers, into Paul, a servant of God.
And Paul? He changed the world.
Today, my friend, who is God calling you to love, to draw close to? Maybe it’s one who needs love the most. Maybe it’s one who will change the world.
It may be that little tike that has used up every.last.ounce of your reserve energy, or the one down the way who hasn’t showered in weeks. Maybe it’s the chatterbox or negative Nellie whose presence causes people to flee in the opposite direction.
And just maybe Jesus wants to transform their Saul-like life and use you in the process.
Yes, maybe.And in the end? They’ll be transformed by God’s very hand, and you will be too.
And I’m right there with you.
My friend, will you be God’s Ananias?
There are times when loving is ugly. There are times when reaching out isn’t convenient or comfortable or simply isn’t what I want. But there are times when You call me to go, to love those who need it the most. Lord, open my eyes so I can see and my ears so I can hear. I will go. I will love those You place in my path. I will be Your ladder to pray over them and be used to bring You glory. Transform my Saul, Lord, and transform me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Update 5/14/15: Linking with the energetic writers at #CompelTraining today.
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Much truth & wisdom in this post. It IS hard to love difficult people But if we press through, we are the ones who are changed. Beautiful post!
Thanks for stopping by today. Keep on pressing through. 🙂
Kristi, thank you for sharing your encouraging words over at Intentionally Pursuing. : )
P. Patty calls those hard to love people Sister Sledgehammer and Sister Sandpaper. After a while I realized I needed those people in my life and that God had placed them in my life to knock off the wrong parts and sand down the rough parts in my own life. I pray I follow Ananias’ example and welcome God to use those hard-to-love people to refine me.
S. Sledgehammer & S. Sandpaper….I love it! P. Patty and you hit the nail on the head. Refine us, Lord, refine us.
That was beautifully written Kristi! I could just see her words dripping with wisdom. Ananias didn’t hesitate to answer God’s call and as a result he made a big impact on the lives of so many people. I’m struggling to see the people in front of me and recognize their needs. Instead of seeing my to-do list and my hectic lifestyle. I certainly don’t want to miss my Ananias moment. Thanks for the inspiring post!
No hesitation, no to-do list for Ananias. Don’t you love it?! Thanks for your sweet encouragement as well, Angela. 🙂
Kristi, thank you for this. I want to be that person. I so badly want God to use me like this. Thank you for your heart and your questions that really get me thinking. I love that you are such an integral part of the Purposeful Faith #RaRalinkup!
I’m right there with you, Kelly, wanting to be wholly available and used. 🙂 Thanks for popping in and for your encouraging words, both here and in your posts.
I have been praying that God would help me love people who seem unlovable or even just different than me, so this post was really encouraging to me. Thank you!
Wonderful prayer, Michelle. Warms my heart to read your comment. 🙂
Kristi, I always love reading about Paul and being inspired about the transformation God can do in my life! #RaRaLinkup, your Compel Sister, Kim Stewart. Have a great day!
Thanks for stopping by, Kim. It was a great day….hope yours was as well. 🙂
Wow! what a challenging post – I have never thought about the part Ananais played in Paul’s life. He loved the person God saw and that is such a challenge for me, to see past the mud and muck and to love who God sees – thank you for this little nugget of uncomfortable – I love it 🙂 cheering you on at the #RaRaLinkup
Awww….thanks Tania. This “little nugget of uncomfortable” (I love that by the way) is just that for many of us. Cheering on an Ananias spirit in you and me, my friend. Thanks for stopping by.
Kristi – spoke right to my heart today. Thank you for your beautiful words!
(In a whisper) Thank You, Jesus. 🙂
This is filled with wisdom Kristi. I tweeted your quote today. Good stuff. <3
Thanks Carmen. Praise God. 🙂
Great words, Kristi! You are right, it can be so hard to love the unlovable but it’s also so amazing to see what a little time and attention can do in those people’s lives. Goodness, I know I have my unlovable moments and I’m so grateful the people around me, and God, see past them. I’m always so curious what path the hardened heart has traveled in their life – and your reminder of Saul and his incredible conversion makes even the most difficult people seem reachable. Really blessed to have stopped by from Holley’s today.
Thanks for stopping by. You’re right. It is amazing what the Lord can do…in anyone’s life. 🙂 Go God, go.
Prayed with you …Thanks for sharing your heart and God’s heart for us to love the hard to love…and yes, that includes ourselves…So grateful for God’s love for us that enables us to love…Glad I found you via Google…Thanks for visiting my blog last week 🙂
Dolly, Google is an all-knowing thing, isn’t it? So glad you found me. Thanks for stopping in.
Amen. 🙂 Well said.
Thanks for that. 🙂
Thanks for your kind words, Brenda, and for stopping in.
Love this – Have a head-on encounter with the ugliness of hatred and fear composing Saul’s world.
Yes,Lord help me be willing to be an Ananias. Thanks Kristi. Very well written.
So glad you’re willing to be an Ananias, Pat. Your visit is a blessing.
Kristi I had commented on this one earlier but I wanted to say again, great post on loving those that just get under our skin, The ones who are unlovable. ~visiting today from the Compel Linkup
Thanks for visiting again (I hope it was okay to post an oldie, because time and kids weren’t allowing anything otherwise!). You’re comments, even two, are always welcome.
Hard people are hard to love – so true. Thanks for inspiring me today, Kristi, knowing that “maybe Jesus wants to transform their Saul-like life and use me in the process.”
And thanks for blessing with your visit, Kim.
Wise words Kristi. “It wasn’t all about that hard-to-love person after all. It was equally about hard-to-love me.” Thanks for sharing. Great reminder for us to love the unlovable.
Thanks for visiting, Kelly.