“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”
(Philippians 1:6 NLT)
Friend to Friend
He ironed. I watched.
I stood in the door frame of my guestroom, watching my nephew Jonathan iron the wrinkles out of his crumpled shirt, the rumpled creases out of his crumpled heart. He ironed and talked. I watched and listened.
Jonathan, my twenty-seven-year-old nephew, stopped by for a visit on his way to a wedding in my hometown. I’ll take every opportunity to spend time with my two nephews, Stu and Jonathan, and their sister Grace Anne. I’ve always been convinced that the stork dropped them off at the wrong address, missing my doorstep by 200 miles or so. I’m just crazy about them.
But life hasn’t been so easy for this precious nephew, or his siblings. While they have an adoring, godly mother, it has been the absence of a father that has left a lingering ache—an oozing wound. Each one has reacted differently to the abandonment, but it has been Jonathan, the youngest, who seems to have struggled the most.
I’ve always known that God had a special plan for Jonathan. The shaping and molding by God has been fierce, intentional, deliberate. But today he ironed.
“Aunt Sharon, can I borrow your iron to press my shirt for the wedding?”
“Sure, Bud,” I replied as I pointed him to the board.
I plugged the iron in the outlet, leaned against the door frame, and watched.
As Jonathan moved the iron back and forth across the wrinkled fabric, he ironed out much more than a shirt. He ironed out the wrinkles in his heart, pressed out the pain of life without a dad, smoothed out the hurt of abandonment, and steamed out the stubborn creases of years of questions. Why did his dad leave? Why wasn’t he worth sticking around for? Why wasn’t he worth the effort? Why was he more affected and infected by the virus of abandonment than his siblings?
“God has done so much for me and in me,” he explained. “It has taken a long time, but He has healed me. He has mended my heart. I’m ready to move on now. More than my dad coming home to me, I pray that he will come home to Jesus. That’s what I want more than anything.”
Twenty minutes later, Jonathan finished ironing. One shirt. One heart.
You know, I could have said, “Hey, let me just iron that for you.” I could have finished the job in two minutes or less. But this was not about ironing a shirt. This was about pressing out the rumpled creases in a young man’s heart. I couldn’t do that. Only he and God could. Jonathan needed to hold the iron of God’s love and move it back-and-forth, back-and-forth, until the rumpled mess was smoothed. My job was to watch. To listen. To pray. To love.
How about you? Is there someone in your life that has a wrinkled wounded heart? Have you yanked the healing tool of God’s love out of His hand and tried to iron out his or her problems yourself? Did you ever consider that you might be standing in the way of what God is trying to do? Those are hard questions. Perhaps you have thought that you could solve a problem or heal a heart quicker than waiting on God. Perhaps you’ve stepped in where you were never meant to step. (Speaking of stepping…I think I’m stepping on some toes. Mine are starting to hurt too.)
Perhaps one of the best things we can say to a person struggling is, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” (Philippians 1:6 NLT). This verse doesn’t say, I am certain that if you do what I tell you to do then everything will be fine. It’s saying, I know that God is going to work mightily in your life. Just stay close to Him so you can hear Him, so you can see Him, so you can follow what He’s telling you to do.
It’s hard not to step in! Our momma’s heart wants to help. We don’t like to see our kids, or anyone, hurting. But just as the caterpillar has to struggle to emerge from the cocoon, a soul has to struggle in the dark places of life in order to soar. And we shouldn’t mess with that.
It was such a joy to hear how Jonathan had pressed through the pain and let God iron out his questions—how God had smoothed out the bumps in the rocky road of adolescence after abandonment. He wears his mended heart well. That doesn’t mean that it won’t need a touch up pressing when daily life ruffles up the fabric of his heart from time to time. But I have every confidence that he and God will iron out the wrinkles together.
And the shirt? It looked pretty good.
Dear Lord, forgive me for trying to fix other people’s problems when they are not mine to fix. Today, I’m committing to watch, to listen, to pray, and to love. Help me not to get in Your way of what You are doing in someone else’s life.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How are your toes?
Has God convicted you that you might need to step aside and let Him do what only He can do?
Are you ready to watch, to listen, to pray and to love?
Who are you praying for today? Click over to my Facebook page, leave the name of the person you’re praying for, and then pray for the person’s request after yours.
More from the Girlfriends
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