Linda lived a quiet life alone in a small apartment, working five days a week as the receptionist for a local law firm. On the weekends she spent time with a few close friends – hiking, bike riding, and sometimes camping. She loved the outdoors. She felt closer to God out in nature, marveling at His awesome creation.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made.” Romans 1:20
As a follower of Jesus, Linda wanted to honor Him in all her relationships. She was always willing to engage anyone in conversation, but she worried some interactions might be detrimental to her walk with the Lord. Linda was by no means obsessive about her spiritual discipline, but she did want to grow closer to God, and for this reason she decided to be more deliberate in her personal encounters.
In order to quantify the value of her various personal encounters, Linda began taking notes after each interaction. Her goal was to collect enough data to help her make some calculated decisions about the best way to share her time with others. It didn’t take long for some important trends to materialize.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
The first observation she made note of, was one that seemed obvious, but writing it down helped her be more cautious. Her first recommendation was to not open her heart to everyone. Some things should only be discussed with other believers, some things should only be discussed with older and wiser friends or family, some things should only be discussed privately with God. Linda found she sometimes shared too much with strangers, or young people who were somewhat immature. She determined a little more caution would eliminate some unnecessary emotions.
Linda’s experiment also uncovered some things about herself that she encountered with others. Occasionally, Linda would meet with someone new at the recommendation of a friend, only to discover the expectations fell far short of the friend’s description. This observation made her realize that she was sometimes the recommended friend who did not measure up. It became clear that her preconceived notions or the preconceived notions of others played a major impact in many encounters. As a result, Linda made a decision to listen for the voice of God when meeting new people and not depend so much on the opinions of others.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Finally, Linda’s research pointed her to a problem she needed to deal with. She discovered she sometimes used her relationships with important people at the law firm where she worked to inflate her ego. Of course there was nothing wrong with these relationships, but she came to the conclusion that she gave them too much value. Instead, she vowed to in the future give more value to her humble and simple relationships – especially those who shared her love for God.
The ultimate take-away from Linda’s research was something we should all consider in our lives. We should avoid becoming emotionally or spiritually dependent on other people. Instead, we should seek a more intimate friendship with God.
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