by: Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer Columnist Barb Lissow
March 29, 2020
Sandpaper or Velvet?
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:12-15
A reverent funeral was held in the small town of Atwater, Minnesota this month. The last of Frederick “Ted” Wayne Fischer’s family generation, Yvonne “Bonnie” Fischer Anderson passed away quietly, in the arms of her loving children, from age-related natural causes. Bonnie was 95, was my father’s last-living first cousin, and a sweet, sweet blessing to all who knew her. Bonnie’s father and my grandfather were brothers – Frederick William Fischer and Otto Fischer – these two men were from a family of 13 children. Bonnie and her wonderful husband and children and grandchildren are part of the few relatives of my father’s family that I have had contact with. Bonnie was a precious woman of faith with a heart full of love, and when I first met her about 15 years ago, we had the most special visit at her home in Minnesota. She pretty much adopted me as one of her children the minute I walked in her front door, and all her immediate family surrounded me as though I was a long-lost sibling! What an unexplainable feeling of belonging, warmth and care they showered over me! How I wish my father could have been there to experience this warm family gathering. Both of my parents had passed away before Bonnie became such a treasured part of my life. How I love the Andersons!
At that God-intended visit, after much discussion of our similar faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and stories about the history and ministries of our families, Bonnie shared with me a lovely devotion she used in her ladies’ ministry at her church about sandpaper and velvet. It goes like this:
God’s commandment is “Love One Another as I have loved you.” This is a command that we should all find a blessing in obeying. However, we are human, born with human frailties. We all have family, friends or acquaintances who bring out the worst in us instead of the best, rubbing us like sandpaper on just the wrong spots.
It is good to remember that Jesus encountered these same sandpaper experiences, even from within his inner circle. Judas was constant sandpaper to Jesus, yet Jesus loved him as He did the remainder of His disciples.
But the Lord loves us so much that He gives us other friends, family, and acquaintances who are like the softest velvet. They are comforting to and supporting of us. They tangibly reveal God’s great love for us just when we need it most. Thank You, Jesus! (Author unknown.)
In an aged envelope that held the well-worn, folded piece of delicate paper with the beautifully handwritten devotion, were two small, square patches – one of rough, brown sandpaper and one of soft, deep red velvet. Bonnie handed me the envelope as a gift to take home with me. How I love my precious, velvet cousin!
This is my prayer for all of us: Precious Heavenly Father, in this time of fear and illness, may we rest in Your promises, blessings, and assurance of Your everlasting love. Please, Lord, lead, guide and direct us in our daily lives to remain compassionate and forgiving toward one another. Help us to be like velvet to the people you place in our paths – the ones who are easy to love and the ones who may at first seem like sandpaper. Help us remember that we are ALL God’s children and bring us together as a loving family. Amen.
In Christ’s love,
Barb Fischer Lissow, Faith Lutheran Church, Pocatello, Idaho