FINGERPRINTS AND SNOWFLAKES! The older I grow, the more I have come to realize that we are all different from one another. Just as there are no two fingerprints or snowflakes which are exactly alike, there are no two people who are exactly alike!
In our day, we are often more of a number than a person!
I was surprised when my children were born that they were immediately given a social security number to identify them. When I was young, social security numbers were not given out until a person was ready to begin his work life, at the age of fifteen or so, solely for the purpose of tracking employment!
We have drifted from the familiarity with others which we once enjoyed. Today many determinations are made in a person's life based on documentation rather than familiarity with a person's character!
I wonder if we do not often do the same in the church!
Do we interact with others in our churches based on their unique circumstances and personalities or are they merely a number to us in which we can provide everyone blanket formulas for success in their Christian lives?
Are all the same or should some considerations be made in some cases?
If so, what considerations might be given?
Some can be in a very dark place in their life for any number of reasons. As fellow Christians, we should learn to discern, and be sensitive to, the seasons of a person's life. We should not make the same unbending demands of everyone and make no consideration to a person's circumstances or state of mind.
Perhaps there has been a death of a family member or friend. Perhaps a person has just lost his job. Some may be simply depressed for no apparent reason.
Do we make the same demands on all of them or give them all the same advice?
Do we make an attempt to know what season a person may be in?
This is especially true inwardly! Do we not often talk to each other on a surface level about our outward circumstances rather than about our inward or emotional state?
What is the correct answer to the question, "How are you?" "Fine" is the authorized response,of course ! Are we really asking or merely exchanging pleasantries? As Christians, should we not delve deeper to learn the true state of others?
2. Extreme differences of personality
We cannot always judge all equally. We must allow God to open our eyes to see that one person's reaction to circumstances can be vastly different from another's.
Some may be very close to a loved one who dies and be completely devastated. Others may have had a more distant relationship and therefore may feel somewhat indifferent to the loved one's death.
When a husband or wife dies, the remaining spouse may have a high-paying job and merely need to make some minor financial adjustments. Others have no marketable skills and face losing all!
One may be stronger than another and have abundant emotional reserves to cope with such a loss. For others, this may be the last straw which plunges them into a deep depression!
Perhaps one who loses his job has an enough money saved to keep him going for quite some time. For another, the loss of income will result in the loss of his car, home and more!
Perhaps one who loses his job hated it anyway! He is thrilled to be on unemployment for a while! One may have family support while another is alone. One may have many friends to encourage him while another has none!
One may have been raised with a great dysfunctional, overwhelming sense of fear and the loss of the job for them is pushing them to the emotional brink. Another has been raised with a strong faith that all will work out in end and has no such sense of dread of the future.
Do we see them all the same? Do we perhaps assign a point system based solely on outward circumstances and assume that all should and will react equally and have the same emotional response?
3. The past
I once heard a man criticize another in a church for smoking. He said, "I never smoked a day in my life!" Isn't that the point? The man was in his seventies and had never smoked! How could he possibly possibly understand the struggle to quit of a man who had smoked for many years, perhaps decades, from his youth!
We must then ask ourselves if we are guilty of following the modern trend of seeing others as a "number" rather than a unique, individual person!
Do we tell people to follow steps a,b and c and all will be well?
God's way will work for everyone! But it may take longer for some than others because of their past! Many begin the race far behind. Can they be expected to catch up in a moment of time?
Someone once said that our lives are like knots in a fishing line. Every fisherman knows that you cannot simply pull as hard as you can on a knotted line to untangle it. You have to patiently undo one part of the knot at a time. This knot leads to that knot and finally you get them untangled.
We look at our lives and see that they are knotted. Our tendency is to jerk at them and correct them so that they will be smooth again and ready to be used - free from all the tangles of the past.
But God knows and we must learn that only He can undo the knots in our lives in the correct sequence! When I try to untie a the knots in the sequence I see fit, it becomes tighter and more tangled!
I must patiently allow God in His wisdom to untie the knot He thinks is most important right now.
In the proper time, all of the knots will be untied and untangled. I must allow God to choose the sequence in untying he knots in my life. I must also allow God to choose the the sequence and timing of untying the knots of other's lives!
Ask God to help you see people as unique individuals rather than as numbers! We all have seasons in our lives, God-given personalities and pasts which determine who we are right now - in this moment.
We are not numbers which should all be expected to act and be the same!
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
God sees us as individuals and has set an individual, customized race before us. He does not see as "numbers" - all the same and expected to run the same race at the same speed!
As children of God, we should do the same - making the effort to know and understand others intimately enough to see each as they really are - each of us in a particular season, with all of our peculiarities, weaknesses and the baggage of our pasts!