Nov. 30, 2019
It is true. Iron does sharpen iron when struck together, causing sparks to fly.
Lest one might think that all trips, with any group of people, and even a couple by themselves or with four guys such as us, will always be “ hunky-dory”, a saying I grew up with, meaning something is perfectly right all the time, or this will be all fun and games, let me assure you. It will not.
Or as are the words to a once-popular country song, “I didn’t promise you a rose garden”, sung on the radio in the 70s by Lynn Anderson, might be remembered by some of you. Roses come with thorns.
It is another true word that is written in the Bible, speaking of tension or conflict that hopefully will be used to not break apart but to bring about a finished product good for implementing a good purpose.
“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17, NASU
Or as it says in the NKJV version, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
Have you ever seen what happens when a piece of iron, a very strong piece of black metal, strikes another piece of very strong black metal of iron? Sparks fly!
But we are given these opportunities, not to divide us, but to make us stronger, to make our relationships with each other depend not on our option to walk away and forget about it, but to work with one another to accomplish a higher purpose that the Lord invites us to enter into with each other.
Even so on this ahava (love) adventure, there was one time early on when I texted my good wife Laurie, writing, “I wish I was with you rather than these guys!”
I guess the truth being known, I wasn’t convinced at that point that this was “God”. And yet deep in my heart, I knew it was. He had purposed it. It was in His plans. Now we were going to walk it out.
Then I was beginning to also understand more fully why tour guides tend to “check out” when their day of guiding is done. They seek time away from the group, wanting some peace and quiet before the next day begins all over again. But this wasn’t meant to be an “ordinary tour” for us, but rather a time to bring support and encouragement to our Israeli friends. At the same time taking some time to see what the Lord Himself is doing in His restorative, eternally prophesied plan of being worked out for this Land and these people.
Being around each other, especially when one is just starting to really know each other, can bring up, stir up, whip up issues that we normally don’t have exposed when we are with those whom we have grown used to, whom we have already gone through this process of relationship building.
When you think about it, there were indeed those times when the ones you are now “used to” had days of iron sharpening iron, too. Am I not right?!
When a time came to visit the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept, along with other museum artifacts, I told the other three, “We have these hours to go on our own to see the displays, walk the grounds, before meeting back up to head to our next destination.” But later, when we all came back together, I heard one speak to another in my presence, “Steve just wanted to get rid of us for that time.” There was some truth in that!
For the most part, which I am truly grateful for, the Lord was bonding us together, and I know that those 10 days together were meant for more than just 10 days together. This would mark a point later when we could and would look back and say, “That was when the Lord did…” for whatever memory each of us will have to share with others back home. It will also be a placemark in our own life to take note of what the Lord did for us personally.
Whenever the Lord does a work among people, in order to get us together in unity and with one-mind, centered not on ourselves but on Him, there will be moments of conflict, tension, and strife. Similar for those who are married, and who have kept the promises they spoke to each other in their vows on that special day, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow. years…”, you know that this is true.
Was this 10-day trip a commitment to a marriage? No, but it was a set apart time to knowingly go to Israel to build something for the future, and not just to have a time of vacation or to get away from the rat race so often we find ourselves in during the other days of the year.
When I look back on those days together, with my spiritual brothers, and even more so friends that I believe will continue to grow more so in bonded relationships, I am thankful for the times when it wasn’t easy, when I had to “lay my life down” for the others, when we each had to give and take a few moments. They were growing times and needed time.
But as it is with all teams that come together for the task ahead to accomplish a specific goal or agenda, such as those on a sports team, a work crew, an Army squad, or a Spirit-led group of four men, this was important for each of us.
If you join me on an Ahava Adventure, know that you too may at one time or another think “Why did I come?”, or “What was that all about?” while on the trip. And yet I will say, “Trust me”, as I like to speak to Laurie occasionally.
For the Lord will be with us. And when He is with us, you will know the what, when, and why parts. Maybe not then, but certainly later. It may just change your life.