When Joyce Landorf came up with her teachings on Irregular People, it resonated with Alva and me right away. It put a name to one tool in God’s toolbox of which we were already well aware.
God’s toolbox? Yes, God’s toolbox. Tools He uses to fix Christians. Does this confuse you? Well, let me explain.
Human beings come into this world by being born physically, usually becoming citizens of the country in which they were born. They are tiny, helpless, totally dependent upon parents and others. They will require many years, much experience, much training and much money if they are to become mature adults who can exercise a positive influence on their world. Some really succeed in this, many are failures, and multiplied millions are somewhere in between. Your basic human being wants to live as long as possible and enlists modern medicine to reach that goal, for, after all, this world is our home; we only get one shot at worldly success. What we have covered so far is what we call a Human World-view.
But wait a minute! Somewhere, somehow, during our human existence we Christians encountered Jesus. We believed in Him, our sins were forgiven and we were born again, spiritually, as explained by Jesus in John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” So how do we start out as Christians? 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” We start out as spiritual babies!
And what is God’s goal for each of us? Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This process allows us to serve on this earth at the same time He is preparing us for heaven, where our eternal citizenship lies. Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
What a big job, to transform the new-born spiritual baby into a mature spiritual adult who is conformed to the image of Jesus! Jim Durkin, in the days of his Lighthouse Ranch ministry, called this process “soul training.” Our daughter, Janet, and her husband, Emil, were Co-Directors of the Ranch for several years, and we heard a lot about soul training, and adopted that name for what we were doing at the Chapel, trying to get ourselves and the Chapel family looking more like Jesus day by day. God’s toolbox contains the various tools necessary for such a big job. Alva and I had put our own names on the tools thus:
- To handle gross changes, hammer and chisel;
- To bring into rough conformance, a wood rasp (a file with sharp cup-like teeth all over it);
- To further smooth the image, coarse sandpaper;
- Then ever finer sandpaper until a very smooth image is attained.
Irregular people can fit into any of the above categories. No matter how much they irk us, we have to be careful how we react to them: they are fellow human beings; maybe family members; maybe fellow Christians. God loves them. God may have assigned them to us as one of His tools, so we better not risk labeling them as agents of Satan. Instead of trying to adjust them so they won’t irk us anymore, we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He tries to use them to adjust us to be more like Jesus.
Whatever tool God is using on us, it is wise to cooperate with what God is trying to do in our lives, instead of angrily resisting. Take Paul as an example, Acts 9:3-5, “As he (Saul/Paul) journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’
And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”
The underlined sentence is an allusion to the driver of an ox team prodding one of the oxen with a goad (sharpened stick) to pull harder. If the ox gets mad and kicks at the goad, it just drives the goad deeper and hurts more.
If we refuse to be improved by the current tool God is using on us, He selects a more painful tool. He will not give up on making us more like Jesus. If we cooperate with the current tool, we will make the desired step forward, and God will stop using that tool and bless us. When it is time for the next step, God can select a less painful tool. Hooray!