Years ago, someone made a comment about something seemingly innocuous, but it was deeply hurtful. This comment was made in the church that the mister and I were newly attending. It was a place where we were seeking God; yet, this individual and the words spoken sent me running from that place. Soon after, I was driving by a country church with one of those billboards out front that tend to have little pithy sayings. This one asked what was coming between me and God. The sign and my hurt feelings inspired a little conversation with God as I drove.
Me: Lord, I want to know you. I'm trying. That person was awful to say something like that to me.
Me: That person hurt my feelings. That person didn't care about my circumstances, and You are not limiting me according to what she said.
God: [probably pointed silence]
Me: You are not limiting me. Really, that person isn't limiting me. My reponse is limiting my access to You because I am more concerned with that person being wrong than I am with being right with You. Uh-oh.
God: [in infinite patience is still silent]
Me: Well. I'll just keep right on coming to that church, and I will just keep right on seeking after You! In fact, I'm going to be so nice to that person that they won't know what hit 'em.
I thought of this exchange that happened many years ago this morning. The exchange that could have driven me from church, and become something I held up as a shield of bitterness between myself and God is now one I treasure. The person who I would have let push me away, is someone who I hold intensely dear. (We have never discussed that offhand conversation, and the speaker of those fateful words probably does not remember them. I remember it, not out of hurt, but because it reminds me that my perspective is not the only one.) It is also an illustration of an idea that fits in with Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Whatever might come between the vertical relationship with God and His follower, needs to be flattened into a horizontal position that nothing would impede that most important relationship. If I am right with my Lord, then I believe all else will follow.