In a women's ministry conference, Dr. Pamela Reeve, a faculty member of Multnomah Biblical Seminary, told that in one period of her life she worked under a supervisor who sought to stifle her vision and to constrict her work. Her natural desire was to retaliate. She prayed much and thought surely God would change the man's mind, but He didn't.
"God wanted to do a work in me," she said. His first work was to convince her at a deep level that God was in charge of the outcome of her work. She wasn't. Then He also convinced her that no one else controlled her ministry; God Himself was in control.
"I remember the rest and the freedom that came out of that," she recalled.
Still she had to endure the boss's disparagements of her because he constantly undercut her to those beneath her. It meant she must daily put off that old life that wanted to retaliate either very openly or very subtly. It also meant a daily looking to the Spirit for power to bless that man, to pray for Him and to say good of him, to do him all the good she could possibly do.
The test of her spirituality came in that daily putting off. The Lord let her exercise that discipline for a long time.
"Then came a wonderful word," she recalled. "I had been asking the Lord for more of the fruit of the Spirit and I heard someone say, 'You cannot have the fruit of longsuffering without suffering long.' "I can't tell you what it meant because He gave me at the same time a heart to suffer well. It was not long after that, that out of nowhere except the risen Christ who dwells within, the Lord began to usher forth from my life, a very pure, very deep love for my boss that just totally overflowed. I'd been doing the outward works, but it was only God that could bring that spiritual formation."
Years went on and finally her boss retired. The boss never changed in his attitude toward her. "But what a service that man performed," she said declaring that probably he was the most influential person that ever touched her life because he forced her to, by faith, to count on the empowering of the Spirit to do those things that please Him.
Thank You, God, for grace to love when it is impossible in our own strength.
"Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also" (1 John 4:21).