Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Loving the Annoying

I am at camp right now (Junior 1, 5th and 6th grade, at Nebowa Christian Camp). Here is something I learned at camp a fear years ago.

"How easy it is to begin to assume that I should be comfortable. How quickly I can start to expect an easy and hassle-free ministry." ~ John Piper; A Godward Life

Her name is Kylee. I met her this past week as I spent a few days being a family leader and teacher at First Chance Camp. Kylee was in my family, and at first she was very quiet. By the mid-day on the first full day of camp she has attached herself to me, literally. It was an annoyance that she called me Baldy (I had to shave my head this on Saturday as the result of a hair cutting accident), stole my hat, and hung on me constantly. I was more than a little annoyed when she grabbed my hand on Tuesday night and pulled me to campfire so I could sit by her. I wanted to do what ever I could to get away from her.

On the way back from campfire God used this nine-year-old girl to remind me what is important. She told me that in April her dad was killed in an accident, and that I was her dad now. Talk about having my perspective adjusted. Now I understood why she harassed me (or as she put it, terrorized me). While I was so focused on my comfort, I totally missed the pain in Kylee's life.

We all have to deal with difficult people. There are some people who are so needy the drain the strength out of us. There are other people who for some reason just get on our nerves. There are other people who just can't seem to tell the truth to save their lives. Everyone has "unloveable" people in their lives. People we find impossible to love.

The problem is that the reason we believe they are "unlovable" is the side we have seen, the little we know about them. We can't know everything that has gone on in their lives. Tragedy, abuse, accidents, and family life all have a huge impact in making us the people we are. I would bet there is a reason why the annoying people in your life are annoying.

As we seek to tell people about God's love and minister to people in need, we will not always deal with people whose personality will be compatible with ours. Sooner or later as we follow Jesus we will run into people who make life uncomfortable for us. These people provide us with the ultimate test of love. It is easy to love the people we enjoy, but it is something totally different to love the people who get on our nerves and inconvenience our lives.

{31} Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
{32} So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
{33} But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
{34} When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
(Mark 6:31-34; NIV)

Jesus was being inconvenienced. People were coming from all over to take from Jesus. They were sick, lost, and poor. They had nothing to offer. They just wanted Jesus to help them. There were so many people Jesus hadn't even had time to eat. The desire of Jesus was to retreat, to go to a solitary place and rest. That didn't happen. Instead people discovered were He was heading, and met Him there. Jesus offers no rebuke or excuse. Instead He has compassion on them and He takes time to minister to them.

This is our example on how we need to act towards others. Yes we may be tired, we may be uncomfortable, and we maybe inconvenienced, but we should do our best to help the people who come to us for help. We have compassion on them, not because they have something to offer to us, but because they are in need of God's love.

On the last day of camp, Kylee's mom came to pick her up. She explained to me how Kylee's father died and apologized if she had been nuisance. I shook my head and said, "She was no problem." My perspective had changed. I know longer saw Kylee as an annoyance, but a little girl who needed to be loved. May we all show compassion to those inconvenient people in our lives.

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