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As Dineen shared last week we both attended a writer’s conference in Nashville ten days ago. It was a tremendous few days for both of us on a number of fronts, not least hearing from the Lord regarding our writing. It was a wonderful answer to prayer for both of us. God is good.
We'll save those stories for another time.
One aspect of the event that I so loved back in 2012 was a sense of the familial. Yes, even when I didn’t know the majority I felt accepted, loved and appreciated. Simply because I was sharing the same journey they were. Yes, having an Aussie accent probably helped a little too.
I experienced the same sensation this time too. Perhaps even stronger. Yes, since 2012 I’ve developed friendships with attendees (like Dineen) but it’s like any new friendship. We get excited in the early days as we learn more about each other and the yearning for more grows.
Funny, I’ve discovered in the last year or so that the more time I spend with the Lord, especially in our secret place together, and in His Word, the stronger the yearning for more of Him has grown.
Vine and Branches
We’re all familiar with this analogy Jesus uses. It’s one that I’ve meditated upon a lot in recent times. Enjoying the Lord and His presence is self-perpetuating. The time we spend with Him, the more time we want to spend with Him.
I was extraordinarily blessed on a number of occasions at the conference by the kindness of others.
Kindness. I love this word. It’s a bit old fashioned a word, isn’t it? We all intuitively understand what it means and we can often miss it when we receive it.
The keynote author gave me ninety minutes one-on-one, another author who is highly sought after by many sought after me to have dinner, and dear Dineen made a point of celebrating a successful meeting I had with my publisher. And then there were all the little moments of people stepping out of their way to say hi. One author even rode down and back up another escalator simply to say hi.
As I’ve mentioned to many on my return my heart is full. And still is. Even almost two weeks later.
Jesus and His Interactions
The Samaritan Woman, the adulterous woman hauled before Him by the Pharisees, and His interaction with Peter on the beach after His resurrection.
All examples of kindness. Yes, there are many other lessons to be learnt in those particular examples but in each of them we see Jesus being kind. The individual standing in front of Him had sinned and in the world’s eyes, big! Jesus didn’t focus on the sin, or their shame. He focused on their heart.
One of the first signs for me that I’ve become too self-absorbed or I’ve slightly withdrawn/disconnected from my wife is I’ve stopped being kind. I forget to make the morning smoothie or send the ‘sweet nothings’ text.
Abiding and Fruit Bearing
Often we’re hurting for good reason. We’ve been let down, unfairly treated or spoken too. Or we’ve simply been ignored or we take a word out of context. Our spouse is self-absorbed in something and we’re not getting the attention we hope for or desire. So we retreat, bite back, ignore or whatever our usual modus operandi might be.
But we’re called to be kind. Even when betrayed by Peter and when hanging on the Cross (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.”) Jesus exercised kindness.
Sure, but Jesus was special. One of a kind. (excuse the pun)
Yes, but He was also an example for us to follow. But how do we do it?
By swinging back to the vine. By abiding.
“We aren’t required to bear fruit; we are required to abide in Christ. The result of abiding in Christ is bearing fruit and that is the proof of our discipleship.”1
The struggle in our marriages, in our friendships, with our children, can be unbearably hard. We can’t bear fruit on our own. I know, I’ve tried it. And come up short too many times. That’s why we gotta keep turning up to our secret place. Every. Day. Jesus is there waiting for us.
Share your hurt, share your joy, give Him everything you got. He can take it. He wants to take it.
The fruit will come.
Believe it. Know it. His Words are true and trustworthy.
Dear Lord, thank you for pursuing us, protecting us and wanting all of us. Help us to let go of our lives and hand them over to You. Be our guide as Your Word reminds us. Give us the courage to turn up every day in our secret place and to believe that Your Word is true. May kindness flow from us into our marriages, into our children, our workplaces and our friendships. We pray in Your mighty Name. Amen.
Note: 1. “Who I am in Christ,” Neil T. Anderson, Bethany House Publishers, 2014, location 2246 (Kindle edition)