Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.
I live to hear the voice of the Lord. There is absolutely nothing more empowering, uplifting and life-changing for me than hearing the Father, our Creator, our Redeemer talk to me personally about what I am going through. I yearn to hear His perspective on the external and internal struggles I’m facing and about the vision of where I’m headed. This is the most incredible part of being in relationship with Jesus, as far as I’m concerned.
Most religions have rules and doctrine and have good works that people are supposed to do. But the Christian faith has a risen, living Savior who still speaks to his disciples and calls us His friends.
My journals are filled with notes I have taken when I have stilled my heart and allowed the Lord to speak to me. Below is one of those journal entries.
Here’s the backstory: My husband and I were encountering a difficult season. For me, much of the challenge was with thoughts and fears inside my head that were overwhelming me. My fears were like virtual reality goggles: everything I saw in my mind’s eye was making me stop dead in my tracks, even though the Lord had promised me that He was working on my behalf in the challenging areas.
My husband and I were also facing financial and relational issues with family members that were making us stressed and sad. John and I have found that it’s hard to encourage your spouse when you’re down yourself!
In our Christian faith, we also have a basic recipe. We have some foundational premises that make up the tried and true building blocks of what we believe and how we execute our faith. Or at least we are supposed to…
Years ago, I wrote down 6 Basic Premises of Christian Living. They are the 6 basic “standards” that we can use to measure whether we are winning at this walk with the Lord or if somehow we have started playing games and calling it “Christianity”. I haven’t referred back to these in a while, so it was really good for me to stumble upon them again in one of my old journals. I needed the refresher, and thought I’d share them in case you do, too!
This past weekend, I went away to a lovely spot called Rangeley, Maine. Rangeley Lake is a peaceful yet breathtaking lake surrounded by mountains that seem to take off right out of the lake. There isn’t one view that isn’t spectacular. I went up with some friends and we spent a lot of time around the lake.
On the second day there, we were sitting lakeside in our beach chairs, drinking in the late summer sun, reading and napping when I noticed a dog jumping in the lake down by the dock. The dog was jumping off the dock into the water and swimming back to shore. He was getting all kinds of praise from his owner who was throwing sticks into the water that the dog was delightedly fetching and returning to his feet for the next round. Then some boys joined in the fun and were swimming with the dog as well. After about 20 minutes of this play, the owner decided it was time to leave so he said Good-bye to the boys, called his dog and they walked off the together side by side.
My friends and I were sitting about 20 yards from the dock and I noticed that the dog saw us and wanted to come and ‘check us out’. He started to head in our direction, but after one firm call from his master, he changed course back to the young man’s side. The dog’s owner probably realized that five ladies lounging in their beach chairs might not want a sopping wet dog to walk on their belongings or shake the water off his coat all over them!
In John Chapter 12, there is a story about how six days before Passover, Jesus went to the home of his three friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, for a meal. This story perfectly depicts the roles that these three siblings have adopted with Jesus. They each have a certain relationship with Jesus and their relationship is flavored by their unique personalities and approach to the Master.
John relates that Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining with Jesus. These were usual roles for men and women in those days. And they were usual roles for both Martha and Lazarus. Earlier in the book of John, we saw Martha racing around serving food to a houseful of people, frustrated with her sister who was seemingly not helping her enough. And we saw that Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus by the way Jesus wept before he raised him from the dead.
So Martha is serving and Lazarus is chatting, but Mary is doing something different. She is doing something that no one has ever seen before. Mary takes a pint of pure nard – an expensive perfume worth a year’s wages – and poures it on Jesus’ feet and then wipes his feet with her hair.
Immediately, Judas Iscariot, whom we know betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, speaks up in protest that the perfume was wasted on Jesus. He says that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. This was a man whose hand was always in the till so that’s why he would have wanted to see the perfume sold.
But back to Mary – why did she do such a thing? What prompted her to take expensive perfume and offer it to Jesus along with the humble act of washing his feet with her hair? I think she did it because she had developed a habit – a lifestyle really – of worship and devotion. The only way that she could offer such an extravagant gift is because she had an extravagant love for the Lord. This was a love she had cultivated. It didn’t come overnight. She put herself in the position of allowing herself to be overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus so that she could be an extravagant worshiper.