Our garden this year is more fruitful than last year. We have watered the trees, attempted to scare off the birds, and watched as flowers blossomed and fruits ripened. We saw the first ripe fig on our fig tree, and the first lemon growing on our potted lemon tree. Last year, we felt God taught us how to hold many new things. This year, we feel He has taught us to grow these things.
It was our second wedding anniversary earlier this week and we had lots of fun. We bought fairy floss (AKA cotton candy – since the traditional second year wedding gift is cotton), I wore a dress of cotton balls, and hubby wore a cotton-ball bow tie. Don’t worry – we changed into more ordinary clothing to go for dinner. Two years have gone fast. As we continue to learn more, grow more, and explore the world together, Jesus remains our center, our guide and our revelation. He enlarges our understanding, our vision and our love. It is Jesus’ constant watering of our soul that causes us to bear fruit as we abide in Him.
[John 15:5] – “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Here are some of the things we feel we have grown in throughout the year.
——- CONTENTMENT ——-
In the last year, we have felt particularly content in Christ, in our identity, and in our mission as a married couple. At the same time, we have felt more passionate about actively calling forth God’s kingdom and His justice on the earth. We pursue things, we fight, we struggle, and we celebrate, but we are content through it all. We have had a peace in all we have done, and have just enjoyed living in the shadow of God’s wings. It is the deep-seated knowledge of God’s love in our hearts that grows contentment in our souls. It also enables us to fight the world’s injustices and deceit with strength. We are Jesus, Jerry and Kristen, just doing life together. We feel content because we know that Jesus loves us.
[Galatians 2:20] – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
——- SEEING GOD’S KINGDOM IN THE MARKETPLACE ——-
Both my husband and I have had a very different work environment this year compared to last year. Hubby entered physician training at the hospital, and I spent the year working with women and children. I also completed my Certificate of Women’s Health, and my Diploma of Child Health this year. It has been a productive year and we have both had to study hard. However, it has also been a most enjoyable year. It was as if our spirit embraced the truth we had been speaking over ourselves everyday as we went to work. As we cried out in faith that God would work through us and in our workplaces, our spirit let go of the “burden” of work. Instead, we found ourselves working with a greater joy, a greater determination, and a greater love than we had before. We persevere in our working to give our best to God and to His kingdom.
[1 Corinthians 3:9] – “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”
——- WISDOM AND WAITING ——-
When we were younger, we prayed with boldness and gusto. We spoke lots, led lots and raced into spiritual battle without a second thought. Nowadays, we seem to have a greater peace and patience to wait. It’s not that we are less bold, but that we are more intentional about what we say and what we do. We are more sensitive to those around us – where they are in life, what they are and are not ready to hear. We have difficult decisions to make at times, but while our hearts yearn for the fruit of God’s promises, we have had this peace to wait for God’s lead.
[Proverbs 4:11-13] – “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.”
——- LOVING OTHERS ——-
I remember my father telling me once that I had “surpassed him” in some of the things I was doing. He said this with such joy as he also shared his joy to step back from the frontline and work more as a mentor for younger believers. It was at a prayer meeting earlier this month that my husband and I realised just how much we had changed in our mindset towards encouraging and supporting other believers. We no longer feel like we need to do everything ourselves on the frontline. Our church has taught us a culture of loving one another, supporting one another and sharing the burden. We can step back, lay ourselves down, and help others enter the glory that God has prepared for them. We joyfully watch our brothers and sisters grow in their gifts and their calling. We joyfully watch them go places we have not gone. We joyfully listen to them pray and speak in boldness. We do not have to lead, we do not have to speak. We are confident in our walk with the Lord, and appreciate the opportunities people give us to practice stewarding the gifts God grows in us. At the same time, we also have joy in stepping back to let others practice such stewardship.
[John 15:12-13] – “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
——- PRACTICAL LOVE ——-
One of the greatest things we have learned at our church, is how love is shown in action. While we speak love and encouragement to one another, we must also demonstrate it. When we say we appreciate a friend, we want to back that up with an action to show it. When I say I want to bless the congregation as I play second keys, I will put in the effort to do so. Some ways we have grown in practical love are: being bold to speak truth to people, even when it has been difficult, organising fundraisers, putting in time to study or practice instruments, hosting people or buying gifts for them, and looking out for every opportunity to serve.
[Galatians 6:10] – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Two years on, we still look at our wedding rings with joy and excitement. It is not just because they are pretty, but because they remind us of a lasting covenant we have made with one another and with God. As we continue to journey through life with God, we marvel at the beauty of life’s garden. God shows us its fruit, and teaches us to tend to its trees. He shows us the beauty of His person, as He shows us the beauty of life as He has created it. We look forward to growing the garden of our relationship together and with God as we continue to abide in Him.