Have you ever heard of the term "divine appointment?" No, it is NOT the day God decides if you can go to heaven, but that was a good guess. Usually God connects you with a stranger or puts you in an unusual situation. Without your prior knowledge, He has plans for you to meet that person's needs or to change the situation by your actions. It is a little like having a small part in a movie. Your scene is shot and then you go about your business, making no other contribution to the story line. I wrote about a divine appointment I had with a Muslim taxi driver on the way to an airport in the last post.
I enjoy my divine appointments. Being able to bless someone else gives me a high that no alcohol or drug could match. I show up, get to be the hero, and just know they wonder if I am an angel as I leave. Promise not to tell anyone, but taking part in a divine appointment always leaves me feeling a little giddy. God has usually prepared me in advance – without me knowing it, of course, so most divine appointments are fun.
God has another way for me to make a difference in someone else's life that is much more difficult and demanding: loving a person the way Jesus loves me. Just to make this clear, the person God wants me to love is not especially lovable and has been in my life for some time. This person can be rude or tactless, push my buttons, or take advantage of me. When I talk to them, my frustration level often gets very high because the things I say or do offends them. Sometimes their image of me bewilders me. Am I as horrible as they describe? How can I love them when the ways they act cause me such pain?
Mary DeMuth wrote a novel, A Slow Burn, which tells the story of a woman - a mother - whose life was so broken that she sliced to ribbons everyone who loved her with her razor-sharp self-hatred. This is one of those books where the story is fiction, but it carries the truth. The plot has a divine appointment or two, but God reaches out to her, most often, through people who continue to love her even if it costs them everything.
Just like Hixon in Mary DeMuth's novel, loving someone with the same love that put Jesus on the cross can be very costly to us. We have a choice; we can love them in spite of our pain or we can bring relief to ourselves and leave them unloved.
As for the unlovable person God put in my life, I have more than a small part in that person's story; we are in this for the long haul. God is using this person to teach me how to love someone the same way He loves me. He lets me see how He feels when I act unloving toward Him. The process is painful, but I am stubborn. I guess I AM getting a little more like my Heavenly Father. After all, He refuses to give up on me, too!