By: Vivian Wilson
Thirty-three years ago I was standing alone in an empty ice cream shop. I was waiting for the “ice cream scooper” person to come back to here post so I could order an ice cream cone. It was on a Sunday after church. I was new in my walk with the Lord. I still didn’t know the first thing about the bible or the Truth it contained. I had much to learn about my new relationship with God.
As I stood in the silence I heard, though not audibly, the clear voice of God in my spirit. He said two things: “I have a plan for you”, and “relationship”. He didn’t tell me what the plan was, but I got it. He had a plan. But relationship? What did that mean?
A relationship is a connection between two people. The obvious one was my new found relationship with God. That was my first thought. I knew I wanted to know him. The more I learned the more I wanted to know him. Today my soul yearns for a deeper more intimate relationship with him. The psalmist said it this way:
Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
But I know when God gave me that word he was preparing me for the cultivation he had planned for my heart. At that time in my life my heart was protected by a wall I had built to protect it. Nothing got in or out. So it is no surprise that I had never been very good at relationships. Over the years he has healed the wounds and filled me with his love. He has removed the wall and cultivated a heart that can produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This fruit is for the benefit of others and not just for me. It is through relationships that the very real presence of The Living God is displayed in my life. It is through my relationship with whom ever God has put in my life, whether for a brief time or long term, that He can affect them through me. What He wants from me is a willingness and availability to be used. He wants me to have a servant’s attitude.
Philippians 2:3-7 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Jesus had a winsomeness that drew people to him. He was gentle, kind, and full of love and grace. In this world where narcissism and hate are rampant what a contrast is found in the follower of Christ whose motivation is love of God and others, evidenced in a servant’s heart.
Don’t think that I fully accomplished this. Far from it! Remember I, too, am still a work in progress. But I intentionally keep in mind the importance of how I relate to others. In my place of work, for instance, I am mindful of the opportunity to show them Jesus as I relate to them. I have already seen evidence that some attitudes have softened and I have earned some credibility. I pray that they see that it is Jesus in me that is drawing them. I pray for opportunities to come for me to tell them.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Obviously, not all relationships are the same. But all with whom I have a relationship should have this in common: That they would be a recipient of God’s grace through me.
A work in progress,