Monthly Archives: February 2015

Relationships

John and I have embarked on the biggest project of our married life. And, we need professionals to help us achieve our goals. To find the right people to help us, we went to a trusted friend, someone who has more knowledge in the field than we could ever have. And, we asked one question, “Who would you trust to do this job?” We knew that the best choice would be someone who lives a life of integrity, who is trustworthy. Knowing that the person we selected would be working to achieve the very best for us was much more important to us than was their experience or their education. We knew that for us to do this project well, we needed to establish a relationship of trust with those who would help us.

Relationship are not built on commerce; a relationship is not like the business transaction model of “if you do this, I will do that.” When two people do “business” together, with a goal to get the right price and quality of product, rules and schedules are set and inspections are conducted. When we have a relationship our focus is not on schedules, return on investment or related inspections.

Oh, it is true that from the outside a relationship can sometimes look a little like a business arrangement. One makes the dinner and the other clears the table. One mows the lawn and the other brings to them a cold glass of lemonade. But, relationships go so far beyond the “this for that” mentality. For example, the loving parents of a newborn will do everything for that child, knowing that what that the love they receive in return cannot be measured.   A caring friend will comfort and care for you without even thinking the cost of their service.

Relationships are not all the same.

Our relationships with those who are helping us with our project are fine, but they do not involve every aspect of our lives. We will trust our new friends with completing the task, but we won’t give our computer passwords to them.

My relationship with family is deeper and my relationship with John even deeper.

But, even John does not know my every thought or step even though he knows more about me than anyone else. And, I trust him completely. When I awkwardly explain something that is troubling me, he waits me out. He does not just listen to my words, but considers my stammering in context of my heart, my intentions and our love. We do not speak to each other as if we were on a witness stand in a courtroom, fearful that each word will be dissected and reviewed. When one of us forgets something, we do not think immediately that the other is hiding bad news or is developing a secret plan. We trust each other.

And, as deep as my relationship is with John, my relationship with God is even deeper. The God who I know and love offers me a relationship with Him. Have no doubt that He is in charge, but my God does not joyfully “smite” me for making a mistake. He does not expect me to be perfect at tasks that I am just now learning. He does not keep a secret list of expectations that I do not know and cannot achieve. Our relationship is based on love.

Are you troubled with a relationship in your life? Are you approaching it as a business transaction (“if you do this, I will do that”) or as a partnership of love? How about your relationship with God? Are you stuck in a “I will never measure up” mentality?  Why not start fresh?

Just remember that relationships with friends, family and even God require us to trust and to open our hearts. Trust me – you can do this!

Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8a)

 

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Leaves or fruit?

I was watching an old TV show on Netflix the other night and a character had a great line, “Act like you have faith and faith will be given to you.” It was the author’s paraphrase of the amazing words of Christ in Matthew 21:22. I like the way how God’s Word Translation puts it: “Have faith that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

Christ gave us this guidance after an incident with a fig tree. Bottom line: He found a fig tree to have many leaves but no fruit. It was a worthless tree. The purpose of the Christian life is to produce. And, by saying “have faith, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” Christ is telling us to be bold in our belief. He is looking to see if we act in faith in the way that He directs. Our acts, our produce is the proof: do we believe?  Do we have faith? Are we producing anything?

Or, are we just trees with leaves and no fruit?

As I read Christian references on Facebook and in emails, I wonder if we are just getting good at “feeling” Christian or “looking” Christian. For example, how should I react when I see a Facebook posting or receive an email of a picture of an amazing sunset with comforting scripture? Do I recognize the voice of the God of all creation, the King of Kings, or do I just enjoy the picture and get a nice warm feeling in my soul? Do I daily step out in faith, believing the word of God?

I struggle when I see Holy Scripture alongside swear words on websites or Facebook pages. It breaks my heart when I see a life that is only producing leaves – no fruit. I recognize the characteristics of that kind of life for I lived it and I strive to never be there again. I mourn when I see prayer requests forwarded without any indication of personal faith, without a belief that the God to whom we pray will answer our prayers. I worry that we may be distracted with the pleasant appearance of leaves, forgetting that if there is no fruit, the tree is not fulfilling its God-given purpose: to produce.

Leaves cover up the tree for a season, but then they are gone, leaving the tree bare, the branches visible. A tree that does not produce fruit is cut down and its place in the orchard given to another.

And, just hoping for fruit to appear in our lives is a vain pursuit.Higuera y para en borde de bancal

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Friend, I am praying for fruit from our lives. It starts with uniting with Christ.

Dr. Diana Harris

doctor onlineWhen I arrived in Pensacola nearly 33 years ago, I began working without thinking much about the people I would need to involve in my life. But, when my prescription for an important medication needed to be refilled, I found myself looking for a doctor. I asked my physician in Olathe, Kansas, for his recommendations. To no one’s surprise, my Kansas doctor had no contacts in Florida. But, he did some research and recommended that I contact a nationally known physician who practiced in my area. And, so I called that office to see if they would take a new patient who needed a prescription filled – fast!

The receptionist was sweet but firm. The “famous” doctor would be unable to add me to his already large list of patients. But, he had a new associate and perhaps I would consider her. I needed my drugs, had no other options, and immediately said “Sounds great. When is her next available appointment?”

The first time I met Diana Harris, I was impressed. She listened, she asked great questions, she took her time and she heard my concerns and my desires. And, for 33 years I found that her patient skills were always top notch. Diana knew me before I knew John. She struggled with me through weight loss and then she didn’t scold when I went through weight gain. She guided me long distance when I became ill while traveling and needed to select over the counter drugs that would get me safely through long flights and back into her office. She even gave me the name of her cleaning lady when the stress of work and life were aggravating health issues.

Last week, I called her office to set up an appointment and learned that she had retired. Yes, I need to find another care giver. But, before I do that, how do I say “thank you” to the woman who saw me only a few times a year but knew and remembered more about my life than almost everyone else. As I think about the letter that I will write, I know that no matter what I do, it will sound “hokey.” And, that’s OK.

Sometimes, our “thank you’s” are hard to write. It is easier to just assume that no one cares if we send a note, make a call, or buy the card.

But, even if no one reads the note, we should still write it. We need to reflect and remember and appreciate those who have cared for us.

 

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16)

 

P.s.  I hope that Diana’s retirement is FANTASTIC!!