This Side of Heaven

It’s easy not to like people.  Waaaaay too easy.  Sometimes people just plain old rub us the wrong way.  Not all people are nice, not all people are easy to get along with.  It’s frustrating really to spend time with them in the here and now.  But what about spending eternity with them?

I remember years ago knowing that my biological dad was nearing the end of his life.  I knew I had a responsibility to fly across the country to see him and share the truth of God’s love for him before it was too late.  I knew it was a long shot.  He was an odd guy really.   He’d been married six times.  I’d only seen him once between the ages of three and 29 and he signed my birthday card,…”your devoted dad.”  I sometimes wanted to toss a few cookies when I heard those things.  And I struggled with a horrible feeling about that trip.  Even though I knew it was my responsibility to share the truth with him, I really didn’t want to share heaven with him.

I know that sounds horrible!  And I’m not going to lie that I didn’t ask God to at least put us on opposite sides of heaven if that time came.   If I wasn’t totally comfortable with him here on earth, why would I want to share the most holy, most worshipful place in the universe with him!?  Why would I want to share the intimacy of worship with a person who made me so uncomfortable.

I’ve always had an urgency in my heart for the lost.  Even more so lately!  But those are people I don’t even know yet, right?  Those are people who really don’t know anything about a Savior….THE Savior.  They aren’t people who’ve hurt me or crossed me or make me uncomfortable.  They aren’t people I’m supposed to love…but can’t seem to.

The thought has been on my mind and so I facebooked it the other day just as it came: “It’s the person that we would least like to share heaven with that is the person we need to pray for the most…followed by ourselves.  They may need a changed heart, but we need a changed attitude.”  Lord, sometimes my attitude stinks.

I went out that spring and met my dad.  I explained very clearly what he already knew about a God who loves him so much he sent his son to die for him.  Heck, he’d been a Sunday School class president at one time.  And with every uncomfortable hug, I knew I was just doing my duty as a Christian.  Some time later, when he died, I really don’t know where his heart was on that day.  There was no last minute flight to be by his side, there was no notice that he was dying quickly.  It just happened.  I’ll never know if he ever opened himself up to the King before that day.

But I do know that it’s possible I might see him in eternity. And again, I might not.  But if I do, I wonder how I”ll feel?  And if he’s not there, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d have genuinly prayed for him first.   I know this though for sure, I’d feel way better about it if I had a change of my own attitude.  I really believe that’s part of laying down your life for another…setting your feelings aside long enough to pray for the unloveable, uncomfortable, frustrating person in your life, and then setting your pride aside long enough to pray for yourself and your attitude.

You never know…you might even get to enjoy that person in your own lifetime!  Can you imagine, if your own prayer softened them, and your own heart softened toward them…they might just not be the frustrating person in your life anymore!

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