Devotions from John Ortberg’s book, The Me I Want to Be
Sometimes we want to change people but we must remember that only God can touch the deepest place of another’s soul. We may think we can intimidate, lecture, flatter, reason, cajole, reward, to get the desired behavior from another but we can’t touch the deepest part of another person. Only God can. Prayer is the closest we can come to being able to influence people at their deepest level, to be able to go with God into another person’s soul, because always between us and inner part of another person stands Jesus. The most direct way to another person is not talking to them. It is talking to Jesus.
When God is present we don’t have to offer up frantic prayer but let go of the controls and let God do His work.
The space between us and our enemy is the space where love can grow. Jesus never prayed for God to remove difficult people from his life and he had many. If God answered our prayer to remove all the difficult people in our lives, we would lose the opportunity for growth. That doesn’t mean we lay down and take everything an insulter would say to us. Sometimes it means confronting the person with honesty and strength, being creative and patient, and working toward reconciliation. The persons we are dealing with are human beings and we can put ourselves in their place and try to imagine how they feel, how they’ve been treated. We can ask what interaction becomes an opportunity for us to practice becoming the best version of myself. We actually need difficult people to practice becoming the best version of ourselves.