On my last Sunday before transitioning to a new appointment I received a letter. The letter was entirely unexpected because it came from a person for whom such things were not common.
When I was first appointed to this particular church, I encountered a gentleman whom I thought might one day be the death of me. While he was incredibly faithful in attending our worship services and Bible studies, he nonetheless seemed to find some kind of strange enjoyment in asking me as many difficult questions as he could think of. I very quickly began to wonder if his intent in showing up so frequently came from nothing more than a desire to see if he could ask a question that would make me squirm. Nonetheless, I did my best to discern an answer, whatever the question might be. Over the next few years, I found that instead of dreading our encounters, I came to very much look forward to the discussions that were sure to ensue regardless of the topic that we might be studying. I found that I very much respected his opinion, advice, and input and looked forward to the perspective that he offered to the class and to my own study.
As I stood and greeted people after my final worship service that Sunday a letter was thrust into my hand that would later bring tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. While the letter was long (and heartfelt) a small portion of it read like this:
“I want you to know how special you have been to me in my Spiritual growth in the last couple of years. As I write this, tears come to my eyes. At the beginning, I would ask loaded questions just to see how you would handle them. You did good. You did so good that I didn’t realize until later that I had stopped doing that. And when I stopped doing that, my questions became real concerns that I was seeking answers to. You did real good Thank you so much for that…As a father myself, I find it difficult to imagine how incredibly proud of you your dad must be.”
Your greatest source of frustration nearly always has the potential to become one of your greatest blessings. It is a natural human tendency to avoid the situations, experiences, and people that challenge us to an uncomfortable degree. However it is often through those challenging situations and people that God helps us to become all of who we were called to be. If you want to grow toward spiritual maturity, then embrace your challenges instead of avoiding them…and ask God how you can best do so. If you do, then you will probably be surprised by how much of a difference the people behind those challenges come to make in your life.