“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Ps. 62:5 (KJV)
I know a little something about waiting on the Lord and I have a hunch that you do too. No matter the season of life, He seems to give us countless opportunities to wait on Him. Waiting for circumstances to change. Waiting for God to heal a broken situation. Waiting for the Lord to fulfill a dream. Waiting for a miracle. During those long, hard seasons our beliefs about God bubble to the surface and questions attack our theology. Is God good? Have I sinned in a way that will keep Him from blessing me even though I have repented? How long will I have to wait? What if what I am waiting for isn’t a part of His will for me?
Ps. 62:5 penetrates to the heart of the matter when we are facing a season of waiting. Are we trusting the Lord or are we consumed with our situation? We know that God is sovereign and could change our circumstances in a blink. When He chooses not to, however, we have two choices: to become disillusioned and hopeless or choose to enroll in God’s school of “wait training.”
I believe there are secret, hidden things that God teaches us when we are fully surrendered to the waiting. In that place, we learn that He is enough. We learn that we should not compare our journey with someone else’s. We learn that His grace is sufficient. We learn to cling to His promises like never before. Whether we believe it at the time, waiting can be a gift. When we embrace it and surrender to the Lord, we can begin to claim something my friend Marian Jordan Ellis shared recently: “Lord, don’t give me what I want. Give me your best.” Only a surrendered heart has the courage to believe His best is worth waiting for.
The greatest waiting test for me came during a heartbreaking season of infertility. I had always expected to have as many children as I “wanted” and then be able to call the shots when my quiver was full. The Lord had other plans- three specialists, four surgeries, countless blood tests, procedures, a miscarriage. It all felt like an out-of-body experience. I kept thinking “this isn’t really my life, is it?” I felt alone and helpless, yet as I trudged through that valley the Lord continued to show me His love in countless ways including praying friends and family, a steadfast husband and friendships with women who were walking the same hard road.
I don’t know if you are facing a season of waiting today, but I can almost guarantee it will be a part of your story at some point. I am sorry for the pain you may be experiencing; however, the word expectation in this verse is so loaded with hope! When we are expectant, we are eager to see the Lord reveal himself in our situation and we are confident that He is up to something, ultimately, for our good and His glory. Remain expectant in this season of waiting; God is not finished yet. ~Courtney*
*For more about how Courtney’s story of trusting God for a child is unfolding, come back for Part 2 of Divine Delays this Friday, 2/28.
By definition, winter is a season of waiting. However, in harsher winter climates, waiting rises to a whole new level of understanding for those in its grip. The desperate desire and longing for the sun to shine and bring the promised newness and warmth of spring with all its glory is palpable.
This salad recipe reflects the provision of beauty, color, and nutrition available in the winter. Citrus is a winter season fruit, and beets are a winter season vegetable. Even in the winter waiting, we are met with wonder.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Citrus and Beet Wonder-Salad!
2 pounds medium beets or about 2 bunches (red/golden), washed and stems cut off
4 cloves garlic, slightly smashed and peeled or unpeeled
4-6 sprigs of thyme
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra as needed
2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented (*use “supreme” technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0 )
2 oranges, peeled and segmented (*use “supreme” technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0 )
1 small bunch (or a few sprigs) fresh mint (fresh tarragon may be substituted)
1 small bunch (or about 6-8 long strips) fresh chives
1 lemon, halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
(Optional garnishes: toasted pine nuts, warm goat cheese on toasted baguette slices, goat cheese sprinkled over top of salad.)
- Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large roasting pan, or glass baking dish, toss beets with about 1/2 cup olive oil, and fill pan with thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and a splash of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 45 min to 1 hour, or until tender so that when a knife is inserted into the beet, there is no resistance. You may also choose to make a foil packet instead of using a baking dish (see video below).
- Once cooled but still warm, peel beets using a paper towel or gloves. The skins come right off if they have been roasted long enough. Here’s a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4OEhQD0sLE.
- Slice or wedge the beets evenly and set aside in a small mixing bowl. Squeeze one half of the lemon over the beets and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the beets.
- In another bowl, place citrus segments, gently straining off and keeping the juice for later as needed. (Separating the two main ingredients is helpful because red beets will turn everything its same color. Also, if you are an aggressive salad tosser, you will end up tossing the citrus segments into nothing. They break and shred easily.)
- Now it’s time to “play chef” and decide how you like your salad best. Roughly chop the fresh mint leaves (use as much or as little as you like) and put half of it in the bowl of beets and half in the bowl of citrus. Then cut the chives in a uniform pattern that you like, either into half inch, quarter inch, or eighth of an inch pieces. You can put more or less of the chives in each bowl according to your taste. Finally, over each bowl of ingredients, sprinkle salt generously (according to your taste) followed by a few grinds of pepper, a splash of the citrus juice (1-2 tablespoons? or according to your taste), followed by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (2-3 tablespoons? or according to you taste). Gently fold and mix ingredients separately in the two bowls. Make sure acid, salt, sweet, bitter balance is in harmony. Taste, taste, taste!
- Serve immediately on a platter in a layered fashion so that the two maintain their color better. (If you should be using golden beets, you can gently mix them at the end because the color will not pose a problem.)
In my personal time with the Lord, I’ve been studying about waiting on God. I can think of a lot of circumstances for which we must wait: a change in career, a longed-for spouse or child, building a house, selling a house, emotional and physical healing, necessary finances, etc. When I feel like the Lord is not on my timetable, I’m often tempted to run ahead and take my own course of action. In studying the Scriptures, I’ve seen that this lack of discipline can have horrendous consequences.
And I’ve seen that in my own life that an impatient heart beats uncomfortably and makes me—and people around me—pretty miserable. I’ve sensed that the Lord has led me to a season of waiting. I’m not sure what this season will birth, but I am learning so many rich things in the process.
Here are a few of my lesson of waiting:
Rest in God. Be still.
Lamentations 3:26 says that, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” Waiting quietly runs against the grain of my I-can-do-it, watch-me-now mentality. And yet, I long for stillness of heart and mind. Sometimes a season of waiting brings that gift. Counselor Helen Luke cautions that without significant times to be still, we “extinguish the possibility of growth and walk backwards.” Here’s the paradox: we achieve our deepest progress standing still.
Not only do we make progress in standing still, but we also receive gifts that come only in the dark of the unknown and the hidden. God promises in Isaiah 45: “I will give you treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places.” I don’t want to miss a single treasure or any amount of riches by failing to wait on God. He has something special for me in every season!
Resist the temptation to get ahead of God.
The Scriptures are replete with examples of people who did not wait on God, but took things into their own hands, and then suffered the consequences. In Genesis 16, Sarah disobeyed God. He had promised her a son, despite her old age. When Sarah’s circumstances stretched beyond her faith, she offered her handmaiden to her husband. We still see the consequences of her failure to wait on God each day on CNN. Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, are still fighting.
The Israelites also got ahead of God and disobeyed Him. While in the desert—a defined place of waiting—they “. . . did not wait for His counsel” and “. . . put their God to the test” (Psalm 106:13b, 14b). The result? God “sent a wasting disease upon them” (15b). Eugene Peterson translates that passage in The Message by saying: “He gave them exactly what they asked for—but along with it, they got an empty heart.”
Getting ahead of God is a lonely place to be. It breaks our fellowship with Him, and like Sarah and the Israelites, it affects more than just ourselves. Whether or not I obey God effects people around me and could hurt future generations. Now that’s sobering!
Remember God’s promises while you wait.
“Blessed are all who WAIT for Him” Isaiah 30:18
“They that WAIT upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.
“[God] acts on behalf of those who WAIT for Him” Isaiah 64:4.
“WAIT on the Lord; . . . and He shall strengthen your heart” Psalm 27:14.
“. . . those that WAIT upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” Psalm 39:9
“The eyes of all WAIT upon Thee; You give them their meat in due season” Psalm 145:15
“The Lord is good unto them that WAIT for Him” Lamentations 3:25
“I will WAIT for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” Micah 7:7
Redeem the Time
If I am going to be in a season of waiting, then I want to make the most of it. I don’t want to miss what God has for me by fretting feverishly. Saying “Yes” to the Lord always brings joy in the end, so I want to choose joy by faith. God never wastes anything when we submit to Him. He can make something beautiful out of ashes, something joyful from mourning, and something praiseworthy from heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). And I realize that God will grow me in the process if I stick close to Him. I love how The Message translates Romans 8:24, 25:
“ . . . waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
Recognize Jesus’ Example
Author Sue Monk Kidd makes an interesting observation about Jesus’ life: “One day while I was reading in the gospels [she writes], it occurred to me that when important times of transition came for Jesus, he entered enclosures of waiting—the wilderness, a garden, the tomb. Jesus’ life was a balanced rhythm of waiting on God and expressing the fruits of that waiting” (from When the Heart Waits).
My heart’s desire is to find that “balanced rhythm” and to express the fruits of this season. God’s promised fruit recorded in Galatians 5:22 includes the gift of patience, and exhorts us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Only by Jesus’ Spirit can we expect to endure a season of waiting and birth patience. Only by fixing our eyes Jesus as our example can we keep from losing heart. ~Judy
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;” Isaiah 40:31
Have you been waiting a long time on God to fulfill His promises for your life? The months have literally turned into years. When you seek God about your situation, He can give you one of three responses: “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” You have no problem when He says, “Yes,” and would even prefer a “no” over a “wait.” You don’t like when God says, “wait,” because you don’t know when He will release the promise.
Regardless of what you’re waiting for, you must understand the purpose of God’s waiting process. He uses this process to prepare you for His blessings. You may need to work on your attitude, deal with your insecurities, be healed emotionally, or be delivered from fear. Whatever your “issue” is and however long it takes, you must embrace the waiting process. If He gave you the promise now, it would overwhelm you. The hard part is not getting the promise, but whether you are able to keep it. God wants you to have “fruit” that remains. You have to trust that God knows the appointed time to release His best for you. All you need to do is hold on until your change comes. Like the old folks used to say, “He may not come when you want Him, but He is always on time.”
Even after you know the significance of waiting on God, some things are harder to wait for than others. Although you may be willing to wait on God for certain material things, like the house, the car or the job, it’s another story when we talk about waiting for a mate. This is a critical area where you may get discouraged and fail to wait on God, but you are definitely not alone. After talking to many people, I was shocked by the overwhelming number who admitted never even consulting God about a mate. And those who did seek God consciously didn’t wait on Him for the “right” mate. Those who failed to wait on God are still wishing that they had. That’s why it’s so crucial that you understand the importance of waiting on God in this area.
One reason you may get frustrated about waiting on a mate is you’re waiting on the wrong person. It’s essential that you wait on God, not the mate. So take your eyes off of the mate and put them on God. Only God knows who is divinely connected to your life. If you are waiting on the mate, you may find yourself always searching for “Mr. Right.” Every time you meet someone, you will try to make that person into the “one.” However, if you simply choose to wait on God, you can save yourself from unnecessary heartache. Even if you believe that God will send the “right” mate into your life, you still have to wait on God for the “right” time. Remember that God has an appointed time to send your “promised” mate if you are willing to wait.
To be entered into a drawing to receive an autographed copy of Willing to Wait, please include your name and comments in the section below by February 28th. God bless! ~DeMonica
Sacred Story is honored to have DeMonica D. Gladney as a guest contributor this month. DeMonica is an accomplished writer and speaker including the author of Willing to Wait and Identity Theft.
Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
We are made of the dust of this world, yet God instructs us not to be of it.
Did you know, that if our bodies were boiled down to the 15-16 chemical elements that can be found in the ground, we are worth just under $10? But with the “breath” of God which is the Holy Spirit indwelling our flesh, we are worth far more than $10 dirt (Job 33:4).
There is a prince of this world. His name is Satan, and he prowls around seeking someone to devour (Jhn 14:30, 1 Ptr 5:8). If we are living according to our flesh we will fall prey to his schemes. If we are living by the Spirit of God, we are living in this world but not of it.
How do we overcome the thirsts, temptations and desires of our inescapable flesh?
First we must know that the Spirit of God in us is not of this world and he is greater than Satan (John 8:23, 1 John 4:4). Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). How long are you willing to wait for the best of heaven, when Satan is flaunting the best of the earth, right now?
Are you aware of his schemes? The world yells loudly telling us what to do, but the Spirit of God is a gentle whisper (1 Ki 19:12). Seek his face, abide in His presence, and let the LORD’s unfailing love surround you, instead of forcing your agenda (Psalm 32:10).
If we are to be in this world and not of it, we must “wait in hope for the LORD (Psalm 33:20-21).
Did you know there is a “perfect, pleasing will” for your life (Rom 12:2)?
If you obey the prince of this world, you are throwing away the best of heaven. Your success in this life has everything to do with how you wait for God’s best for you.
No one likes to wait because we think it means, do nothing and be weak. God knows that waiting takes strength and courageous faith in what we cannot see. That’s why he said “be strong”.
Courageous waiting is calling on God’s promises and standing in expectation in the face of pain, despair, hopelessness, brokenness, bad report, lack, devastating diagnosis, defeat…
Which promise will you declare while you wait?
1. You turn my wailing into dancing. Psalm 30:11
2. You enable my feet to go on the heights. Psalm 18:33
3. You will turn my darkness into light and make the rough places smooth. Isaiah 42:16
4. You will command your angels concerning me. Psalm 91:11
5. You ransom me unharmed from the battle waged against me. Psalm 55:18
6. I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:37
7. I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:14
8. I will flourish. Psalm 92:12
9. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. Psalm 25:3
10. I am satisfied in the morning with your unfailing love. Psalm 90:14
What desire in your heart will you entrust to God?
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst.” Lamentations 3:28-30 (MSG) (italics and bold mine)
I struggle with the idea of waiting especially when “life is heavy and hard to take.” Life happens. And when it gets combined with chaos and suffering, I tend to fall apart. When I finally run to God, I seek a quick fix from Him instead of refuge.
For me, waiting for hope can feel like torture. Most of my anxiety comes from choosing to tackle my problems instead of trusting God. After all, He desires to have a relationship with me, especially during difficult times. He wants to give me the hope that I need so that I can endure and press on. When I choose to handle things on my own, I go in all different directions because I don’t know what to do. My mind stays incredibly busy, planning, strategizing my next move. Unable to hear God or even think about God, I fall apart.
In times of trouble, I should avoid letting my mind get that crazy. Lamentations tells me that I need to stop. If I want to listen to God and experience the hope He has for me, I need to get alone with Him. I need to let go of the wrestling, pleading, crying and embrace the silence in waiting.
Entering the silence means facing my problems head on and laying them in God’s hands. It means giving Him control and allowing God to do His thing in my life. It means confession, admission of pride—letting go of my I-can-do-this attitude—and trust Him with all the messiness of my life.
Honestly, in the midst of hard, I want a miracle. I want the tangible instead of faith. I want to avoid confessing my inability to deal with life on my own because of pride. The silence however, shows me the truth. Without Christ, I can’t. With Him, I can. In Him, I have everything.
All of this then reminds me that the hope I have in Christ continues to work miracles in my life. In laying down my pride, God’s grace works through my hardships. I can focus on serving others by extending God’s grace to them. Hope appears and joy soon follows. Bam! I have my miracle!
No matter what hardships you face, you’ve got to wait for hope to appear. I promise it will! Don’t avoid the hard. Instead, stop, pray and wait.
“Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.” Lamentations 3:31-33a (MSG)
Why do you find it difficult to wait for God during hardships? How can you encourage others to wait for hope to appear?
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:39-40)
It is befitting that I am writing on the topic of “Waiting” as I am literally waiting for the arrival of my second baby. I am 35 weeks pregnant and in 2 weeks I will be full-term. Waiting is a test of faith for me as my pregnancy is considered high risk due to the complications I had with my first child where we almost lost him in utero. At every doctor’s visit, my heart races and I’m holding my breath praying that my baby is well. The closer we are to our due date the more anxious I am.
The hardest thing about pregnancy is that I cannot control the outcome. The only thing I do have control over is trusting the Lord while I wait. But what does that look like? After all, I just had a strong faith-believing friend who went through a second painful miscarriage and another who lost her baby while 5 months pregnant.
First, there is no greater time in our lives when we are reminded that heaven, not earth, is our home than when we are waiting (Heb. 11:16). The anticipation and hardships of life are just a few reminders that earth is not our home. Heaven is the place where there is no more pain, suffering and sin. Waiting in faith produces a longing to be home with the Lord forever where we belong. All becomes dim in light of this reality.
Secondly, waiting in faith reminds us how little control we have and urges us to grow in our trust (Rom. 4:18-21). The Lord is Sovereign Lord (Hab. 3:19) and all things are under His control. In His perfect will for our lives, He does not set aside His goodness (Ps. 34:8) and His love (Ps. 100:5) over us, even in the midst of hardships (Job 42:1-6). Can we surrender to the goodness and sovereignty of His character? Can we bless Him with our faith while we wait?
Thirdly, waiting in faith is active. The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 exhibited sheer, courageous faith. By faith, Noah built an ark (Heb. 11:7). By faith, Abraham left His home even though He did not know where He was going (Heb. 11:8). By faith, Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice (Heb. 11:17). By faith people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land (Heb. 11:29). What drove these heroes to such active faith? Their sheer belief in God as their Messiah who would one day grant them full access to His presence, and their belief in God as redeemer who would reward them someday when all the suffering was over (Heb. 11:39-40).
As I am writing, I feel both peace and conviction settle in my heart. I just came home from my doctor’s appointment feeling anxious. I have some of the same complicated symptoms as my last pregnancy and I don’t know what will be the outcome. I am reminded to fix my eyes on Jesus and radically trust His sovereignty and goodness. I am reminded that in my waiting God desires to grow my faith and to walk alongside me. Lastly, I am reminded to actively exercise my faith while I wait. I can worship Him and walk in obedience to what He calls me to each day – to know Him and to make Him known. What are you waiting in faith for?
“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” Isaiah 40:31
W-A-I-T is a four-letter word. That’s how it adds up.
I mean I want what I want. The traffic light to turn green. The checker to hurry up who is “oh so slowly” scanning. The editor to give an answer about my writing project. The reality to turn out to be a bad dream that I’m looking for housing options again since my roommate is getting married.
God, when is it my turn?
Waiting comes in different sizes. A temporary wait is annoying but a long-term wait is E-X-C-R-U-C-I-A-T-I-N-G. Sisters, excruciating is a twelve-letter word.
Wait upon wait upon wait. That’s how it adds up.
I have no choice but to come to terms with waiting. Our human and spiritual journeys require significant periods of doing so. While writing my Bible study, Capture My Heart, Lord, I discovered a few treasures. By the way, Capture My Heart was born on Valentine’s Day four years ago so stick with me and leave a comment as I’m giving away a copy. Or, if you simply can’t wait, skip my rambling and head to the end.
On to long seasons of waiting. To change my perspective of W-A-I-T as a four-letter word, I am learning to embrace four sacred places in my story.
Wonder. Waiting causes a bunch of wondering. We wonder where God is, if we’ve done something wrong, if God cares. We wonder why. And it can also cause us to look more deeply at our beliefs about who He is. We can wonder our way into grasping Him more fully. Waiting and hope are often paired together in Scripture. If we allow Him to work in us, God’s promises make us full of Wonder. He is the Wonderful One in whom we can safely place our expectations and disappointments.
Accept. A lot of acceptance is needed when waiting. Accepting God’s ways are higher than ours when longings remain and circumstances don’t change. Accepting our own frailty and humanness when we struggle with depression and unbelief. The waiting process can move our hearts to more completely accept that we are not living for this world but for the One who created us. In full acceptance, God’s presence offers Refreshing Rest.
Invite. Beside wondering and accepting is inviting. God invites us to know Him in new ways through a waiting season. He invites us to consider present opportunities for kingdom purposes. He invites us to know Him as our defender, healer, provider, counselor, and much more. God’s gentle beckoning overflows into a Delightful Surprise of how He comes through for His children.
Treat. Waiting is tough. There’s no doubt about it. Treating ourselves to something special buffers the rough edges when waiting is tearing us up. Taking a mental break is what treating is all about; whether as small as soaking in a bubble bath or on a larger scale, going on a getaway. By treating others to an experience of God’s heart, we take our mind off of our circumstances. Calling out to God to remind us He knows what we are facing unleashes Holy Encouragement.
Sweet Sister, I’d love to pray for your wait. Leave your first name in the comment section below. If you’d like to include a request, that’s great but not necessary as God knows our hearts. Speaking of the heart, you will be entered into the drawing to receive Capture My Heart, Lord as a gift. ~Laura *Please reply in the comments by February 28th to take part in the book giveaway
“…The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22-23
I remember hearing a story several years ago about a monk who lived a solitary life devoted to prayer and service to the Lord. He had zero interaction with the outside world except for a hand that would pass him food under a door every so often.
This situation troubles me on a few levels. While I trust that his heart was bent on serving the Lord in his solitude and living a life fully devoted to God, I wonder how he could live out a lot of what Jesus asks of us in Scripture. Throw in that I’m an extrovert and the thought of never having interaction with people—like ever—and I start to twitch and sweat.
A lot of what the Bible teaches has to do with people. Yep, people. Like the ones you live with and the ones you work with and the ones you kind of don’t like so much. We learn a great deal about why we need Jesus while living alongside people. People don’t always act the way we want. Feelings and emotions stir up inside of us and we see parts of ourselves that we don’t like so much. We think, “If it weren’t for that person, I’d be doing just fine.”
But here’s the deal: how could we ever learn patience if it weren’t for that friend that requires you to pray before you call her back because she is going through another “crisis” and it’s sucking the life out of you? How could we ever learn gentleness if it weren’t for those times when we have lost it because our child has disobeyed for the 30th time today and our words were harsh and we were convicted? Or perhaps you are learning kindness and patience through a stranger like in Amy’s story.
We grow because the Holy Spirit tells us there is another, better way and He wants us to look more like Jesus. But remember, fruit takes time to grow and He gives us “people-tests,” as my mom endearingly calls them, as a catalyst for change. So although it is hard, God is often up to some great stuff in our lives through those tests. Yes, we can experience joy and love and peace with God on a personal level, but often we learn to love better because of that hard to love person right in front of us. He uses people.
I wonder today if you are experiencing a “people-test” and God is allowing it to develop some fruit in your life. I know you wouldn’t have picked the situation for yourself but God is sovereign. Perhaps He doesn’t want you to miss out on some fruit development. It’s worth mentioning that WE might be the “people-test” for someone else right now. (wink)
Lord, help us to see our relationships as opportunities to grow fruit in our lives—fruit that will last (Jn. 15:16).