Thursday, July 2, 2009

Iron Sharpeners

“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27: 6, 17

Seeing the senders name, I clicked into her e-mail with enthusiasm. My excitement was quickly dashed. Like hitting a brick wall, the impact of her message was sudden and abrupt. The smile that had only moments ago danced across my face faded. Her words brought a waterfall of tears. Sobs wracked my body. Sounds I had never uttered before escaped, as my heart felt torn in pieces. What had I done? As far as I could remember my only mistake had been loving and caring too deeply. Stung by her written word, David’s thoughts were mine: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend…” Psalm 55:12-13.

Feeling like a sword had pierced my heart, I dropped to my knees. Every ounce of strength had vanished. Sobbing uncontrollably, I fell on my face. Never had I known such pain. When the tears finally began to subside, I lay on the floor now completely alone with my thoughts. Questions filled my mind. Hesitantly I finally asked, “Lord, is there any truth in what she has said? Does this seemingly unfair attack hold any merit? Father, is there something You desire to change in me?”

Immediately my eyes were opened to a personality trait, that although positive, if not reigned can smother the recipient. Her words held fact and were valid. God wanted to work on refining my character. This wound from a friend would heal.

It is impossible to sharpen iron without striking it. Sparks often fly. There will be pain as rough edges are shaped and cut away. In the process both objects are changed.

So it is with friends. We need each other to keep a sharp spiritual edge. We need to be wise in choosing companions, and pray that God would bring those into our lives who will encourage us and bring out the best in us.

I have a friend who is constantly telling me that she’s not going to pat me on the head saying, “there, there”, and I love her for shaking up my life a little…or a lot. Others see things in us to which we close a blind eye, whether intentionally or accidentally. As Nancy shared in her comments on Tuesday, “not all pain is harmful”. It can hurt, but it may not harm. We can grow from the experience, embrace the pain and allow God to change us and love us.

God uses time spent with a godly friend to shape us into His likeness. I am forever thankful for the “iron sharpeners” the Lord has placed in my life. I am more like Jesus because of each one of them. Thanks for rubbing off on me.

I'd like to dedicate this song to a couple of my faithful friends. Love ya.



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12 comments:

Lori said...

Joy, Thank you for beautifully opening up the verses to us this morning. Your writing creates a clear, visual picture that allows the verses to come alive!

The song you shared said, "I will be a faithful friend...I will remind you to always seek His face." Those are two character traits I'd like to offer in a friendship!

Proverbs 25:20 - "Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone's coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound." I've been thinking over this verse a bit...
Just wondering how many times I may be preoccupied with my own cheery self and indifferent to those with a heavy heart? Oh, to really notice those with a need, rather than overlooking and further saddening a person who already feels ignored. To practice this Proverb; to stop and take notice of those that may be suffering around me. To intentionally look for heartfelt ways to help someone else that is hurting! To be tuned in to the needs of others while being aware of my words and actions.

Much wisdom today is shared from King Hezekiah. This man sought our God wholeheartedly. "As a result, he was very successful." [yesterday's reading]

Happy Thursday dear, dear friends!
Love you, Lori - AZ

Sharon@JoyInTheTruth said...

Oh Joy...I love this post and your heart-felt writing here! I so understand and have been there...and will be there again, I am sure. Face down on the ground before the Lord in pain...but as we yield our hearts to Him and ask Him to search our hearts...He is faithful to do it and to reveal what He wants to refine in us!

Love you Joy! Thank you so much!

Hugs, hugs, hugs to you!

Lutiemom said...

Good morning Joy and friends! This morning I wrote the same verses in my journal. Friendship can and should be a very special thing.

Thanks for sharing the song with Twilla Paris and Steven Curtis Chapman. It was a another beautiful reminder of how fortunate we are to have true, sincere, friends.

love,
nancy

Karen said...

Dear Joy,

Thank you for being so open to us! As Sharon said, your words- so heart-felt, and we can really relate!

Proverbs 25:4 n(NLT)

4 Remove the impurities from silver,
and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.

This is the verse that struck me today. I have often been struck by the image of the refiner's fire and the work that God does in me.

Malachi 3 -
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

I have read that silversmiths refined metals seven times in a HOT fire. When it was finally refined, it reflected the image of the silversmith. Oh to reflect the image of our silversmith!

Thank you for your words today! I wish all my US friends a very happy independence day and my Canadian friends, a very happy Canada day as well!

Karen, CA

Elle Elle said...

These words, Joy, resonated within me:

Immediately my eyes were opened to a personality trait, that although positive, if not reigned can smother the recipient.

Isn't it so true (as Lori points out this morning as well) that sometimes our strengths can also be our weakness? We can overwhelm others without temperance...without being refined.

Iron sharpening iron is what makes us accountable...what helps us transform and grow into glory. It is not something we simply receive, we is an obligation we have in return:

To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet. (Proverbs 29:5)

In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. (Proverbs 28:23)

This has been so encouraging to me today, because last night I met with a friend who was my mentor for a very long time...conflict between her and a mutual friend has created a barrier between us ~ the elephant in the room syndrome. At any rate, two weeks ago she asked to take me to dinner before I leave, and last night was the night!

I lifted our meeting up in prayer each day from the day it was calendered to the minute she walked through the door.

When I saw her, my eyes filled with tears and I rushed to hug her. It was all downhill from there. Though difficult words of accountability, loss and pain were spoken, they were spoken gently, and with love.

I truly believe this meditation today is God's way of telling me it is well with her soul, as well as mine.

In thanksgiving and freshly sharpened,

Liz
AK

December Rose said...

Ladies, I have been refreshed by your comments. Vacations and visitors seem to be my agenda for June and July! I continue in my daily readings, but it is not the same when I am unable to read and share insights with my friends!

Joy, I have been back-tracking to catch up. I know I can start where I am, but I don't want to miss anything everyone has shared! You have spoken to my heart, particularly the cloud cover. Despite thinking my plate is full enough, I've not stopped to consider all that God is protecting me from. It is beyond my comprehension, but God is good to keep those things hidden from me (lest I totally stress out! LOL)

Thank you for your servant's heart to lead in Wendy's place. You have surely "sharpened" this friend with your words of encouragement and conviction.

Blessings!
Susan

Deb said...

Joy did you say you were writing a book or you have one published? If not you should! What a fabulous gift you have of sharing a life experience with such vivid pictures through words. I see another airplane ride in store for you...at "She Speaks".

Two of the Proverbs spoke to me today.
Proverbs 27:14
"A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!"
When my children were growing up I would wake them up for school each morning wtih a cheery song..."Good morning to you, good morning to you. Wer'e all in our places with sunshiny faces and this is the way to start a new day!" My daughter would open her eyes with a great big cheezer smile as my song greeted her to rise and shine. On the other hand my son would cover his head and mumble something like...well I couldn't really hear what he was saying. But I knew it was more of a curse than a blessing. I seemed to understand though, since I am more of a cover up my head, and push the snooze alarm one more time kind of person in the morning. LOL

Proverbs 27:19 " As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person."

As I was at my terminally ill mother's feet one day giving them a foot spa and a rub, I looked up at her staring at me. I said, "Am I (meaning my tender loving care) surprising you Mom?" She responded, soulfully, "Sort of." "Well, I said, this is the real person other people get to see." My mom and I were often in and out of relationship with one another throughout life. Not that I had never done anything kind and caring for her, but never was I at her feet.

It reminded me of Jesus washing the disciples feet. He set an example for us as a suffering servant. Setting all else aside to serve inspite of. I wanted my Mom to see the real me, the real me she rarely got to see because of life circumstance and her never ending expectations of me always getting in the way.

For that moment none of it seemed to matter any more...forgiveness set in and the slate was made clean for a fresh start for our relationship. Ultimately in her passing away it led to a peace in me that passes all understanding. I praise God for giving me the opportunity to come to peace in our relationship. Amen!

Love Debbie in Illinois

Anonymous said...

Great reads everyone! Thanks for sharing.

Morgen

Karen said...

Debbie,

I loved your proverb (27:14)! I missed that one, but I have to send it to my kids right now! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ladies,

If you will believe it, I went through almost this very same experience several weeks ago and it has been gnawing away at me.

A friend sent a critical email that was totally unexpected and I burst into tears for several long hours. I confided in some close confidences about the situation to see if the complaint held merit. They did not believe that it did and after praying about it, I wrote back and bascially said I felt judged with no cause and would not be changing anytime soon, take me the way I am or leave me. There was no reply.

A few weeks later, I saw this same person at my first baby shower and after praying I felt that I was to just let the incident pass and proceeded with the party like nothing had happened.

And still I have not really been able to let go, it occupies my thoughts regularly. And then to read Joy's blog today...I am left wondering, Lord - does my friend's complaint hold merit? Do you want me to change? I am so confused...I have prayed about this situation many times and felt that I had done what was asked...and yet, it lingers in my mind.

So Lord I come before You today, and ask that if it is Your will, that you help me submit to the sharpener, the refiner's fire and pray that You give me the grace to see things through and mend this relationship with my friend.

Thanks for your wonderful insights today ladies,

Jodie

Joyful said...

Jodie, your comment has touched me deeply. I am praying for you.

Your sweet surrender is what God desires. May His peace fill your heart as you wait on Him.

Hugs,
Joy

Tulabell said...

Thank you for this message, praise the Lord to bringing me to it at this very moment. It was as if I was reading my exact happenings. I have had to ask for space from a friend who has recently made remarks about the way I have changed since following the Spirit. It hurt that she called me a fuddy duddy and a goody goody and at first I didn't get upset about it, but after I left her house, it hurt. I take my change and walk in Christ seriously. I sent her an my email about all the bitterness I felt in my heart for her words and how I've been wanting to change for so long but never knew how until I knew who I was in Christ. I reminded her of how we misspent our time together and engulfed creating our relationship while sinning and was sorry that I may have led her on to become too attached to our friendship even when I wasn't sure we were good for each other. I pray that the Lord will reveal to her as He did to you her personality trait and to understand mine. That she will realize she only knows the me who is influenced with the sin we were partaking of. I pray that He will show me how to replace my bitterness with sweetness. I pray that He will let her know that she is still loved regardless of how much time I don't spend with her and choose to spend more time with the Lord and at church etc. That even though I am not her "best" friend as she wishes I were, that I am still and still want to be her friend. I just pray.