Originally published Saturday, 16 February 2013.
I’m terrible at keeping in touch.
My sister-in-law is fantastic at it. It seems her friends and family from near and far are always right there with her. Their names on the tip of her tongue. When she talks about them, you can hear the longing, the reaching out for closeness, drawing them nearer to her heart.
She doesn't just long in her heart. She acts with her hands and her voice. She heeds her hearts call and actually reaches for these friends, visiting, chatting, loving on them.
I’m not like that. I wish I was.
I do so long for my far away friends.
I shed tears over their Facebook pictures and e-mails and texts. Every tiny scrap of our relationship is so precious to me. But I know they are scraps. Our connections are too far and few between.
It’s my way, my natural condition, to separate and move on. So I have to fight against myself to reach back, pull those relationships into my present and carry them along with me, nurturing them into my future.
I have to admit that this dance mimics my relationship with Christ.
We had a glorious meeting, an intimate few years of new friendship. But ever since then, I’ve struggled against myself to remain in Him, to keep in touch.
I can feel Him reaching out to me, dropping me a line. When He initiates, our meetings are replenishing, revitalizing. Our friendship is brand new, born again.
But it doesn’t take much neglect before it becomes a mere memory of Jesus in my heart rather than my Lord Himself.
And as the brightness of our friendship grows increasingly dim, darkness takes its place. I think more and more of myself which leaves less and less room for Jesus and others.
Perhaps that is why He encourages us so strongly to remain, remain, remain.
Jesus doesn’t want to be a faded picture in my scrapbook. The mere memory of a dear friend, out there somewhere, just a call away. A call I never make because it’s a little too awkward, it’s been just a little too long.
Jesus wants me to keep in touch. With Him and others. Too the glory of God.
Filling Up & Pouring Out... John 15: 5-17
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
He tells us to love one another as He has loved us.
As a vine to His branch.
That’s the only way. If I try to love others and serve them without remaining in Jesus, without having Him in me, then I’ll wither.
If I remain in Him, constantly, consistently whatever I ask will be given. Strength to forgive, patience to persevere, compassion for the plight of others, resources to give, as I struggle and strain to love and serve others.
All to bring Him glory. Bearing fruit in service & love. Showing myself to be His disciple.
If we remain in Him, and keep His command to love each other, His joy will be in us. Our joy will be complete.
We are friends of God. Chosen and appointed to bear fruit. The fruit of loving one another.
Today’s Challenge… Keep in touch (with Jesus & each other)
1) Get your nose back in the Gospels. Reconnect with this Jesus fella.
He loves us so much. He knows everything about us. In order to remain in Him, we need to continually get to know Him better and better.
You can stick with me through the Lent & Easter as I go "Back to the Vine". I’ll be reading through passages throughout the Bible concerning Jesus, but primarily in the Gospels. I’ll share with you a couple times per week along my 40 day trek "Back to the Vine". There will be reflections as well as reading assignments and challenges if you would like to join me.
Or try reading the Harmony of the Gospels, http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/lifeofchrist.pdf, a 13 week (or 13 day if you are ambitious) chronological reading of the Gospels.
Check out the Essential Jesus reading plan online or via the Youversion App, where “you will discover who Jesus is and why he is so significant – even life transforming.” You can purchase it as a book, do it with a small group, too. This is a fantastic way to really get to know our Lord. http://essentialjesuschallenge.com/
Try some scripture memory. Scripture Typer is an awesome scripture memory system and there is a group, “Memorize the Mount,” that is memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, the whole thing. Just 2 verses per week, guys. We can do it! http://scripturetyper.com/Group/View/5d4f33dc33/
2) Reconnect with an old friend
Who have you not spoken to in far too long? Send a card, text, e-mail. Pick up the phone. Make a commitment to reach out and remain in one another. You never know how much they may need you.