Two days ago, I seriously considered discontinuing these Facebook posts. After pouring out my heart about the One who resides in it, I often feel discouraged that so few people appear to be following my posts, in which I openly share my ravings about Jesus (is anyone or anything worth raving about more?). I was also downcast in noticing how clear it was that so few people actually read my posts in their entirety (yes, they are long). Moreover, they seemed not to bear much fruit: so few people seem to benefit from what my clients and I are learning about the most important thing in life: abiding in Christ and abounding in fruit!
Thought I: “Perhaps I should just join the crowd, and no longer share my heart, and just shut up about abiding in Christ and post good quotes and pictures of my grandchild.” But just as I was preparing to shut down these Facebook posts, two days ago, a woman came to my office for her first session. That was Tuesday, September 1, the day I set on my calendar to shut down these posts on Facebook and look for another venue to pour out my heart about Jesus and abiding in Him.
But the first thing that this new client said to me was this: “I want to start by saying that I have been following your Facebook posts for years, without hitting “like” in order to stay anonymous. Your posts about abiding in Jesus and practicing His presence have been keeping me going day by day through a very difficult time in my life. I read my Bible every morning, and then at breakfast, I read your posts on abiding in Christ. God often weaves together my morning Bible reading with your Facebook posts on abiding in Christ, in a way that just hits the spot.”
Immediately I felt ashamed, as I could see clearly that my discouragement was rooted in my vanity in measuring “fruit” by the number of “followers” and “likes” instead of my joy being made more complete in my daily outpourings, and the fruit He chooses to bear through the use of my morning outpourings in the lives of others, hidden from my awareness.
My vanity gets satisfied by high numbers of likes and followers, which scratches that itch of my flesh and ego. But my soul gets satisfied by the supreme pleasure gained through abiding in Jesus alone, which I have been raving about and posting about all these years. That satisfaction fills my cup to the brim: but if God uses my posts to bless just one person — just one! — my cup runs over.
God is making me realize something else: it is not to even for the benefit of others that I should make these posts when I operate from the purest of motives. Rather it is for Him and His glory that I should continue to make these posts, and that makes my own joy more complete: with or without “likes” and “followers” or even “changed lives.” From C.S. Lewis I learned that “lovers praise their mistresses, readers their poets, walkers the countryside . . . because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” From John Piper I learn that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.” And so, as my joy is brimming over in Jesus alone, I am bursting at the seams about it. Hence these posts!
Of course, I benefit from your encouragement and thrilled that my posts might bear fruit in your life, but in my heart of hearts, when my motive is pure, my deepest motivation is simply to glorify Jesus. I confess that in scanning the reactions to my posts, too often my motivation is to satisfy the vanity of my flesh, rather than the yearnings of my soul. But I take my vanity as yet another sign and symptom of that I am not abiding in Jesus and enjoying His grace, and His approval, and simply “beholding the beauty of the Lord as I inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). If I am not abiding in Him, I will seek your approval instead of His, no less than the Pharisees who “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43).
This morning, even as I write this, God brings to my mind the ultimate non-Pharisee: Mary of Bethany, who anointed Jesus in front of His disciples with expensive perfume and did not look around for anyone’s approval because she could not. Abiding in the presence of Jesus, she gave no thought to others or their reactions. None whatsoever! In fact, the disciples rebuked her for “wasting” what she poured out upon Jesus, and their disapproval had no effect on her whatsoever, especially as Jesus rebuked them and praised her, for what she had done. No “likes” from the disciples! Just a huge smile from Jesus.
When Jesus is in the foreground of our experience, as we abide in Him, all others, all human comments of approval or disapproval, become mere background noise.
And so, as vanity crucified, and with Mary of Bethany as my example, my Facebook posts on abiding in Jesus will continue, at least for another day. They are simply my pouring out to the world a small portion of what God is pouring into me — His grace, comfort, power — as I write; not so much for the purpose of helping others, which I hope they do, but more as simple, spontaneous outpourings as an overflow, perhaps into you, of what God is pouring into me, so as to make my joy more complete.
And so it looks like these lengthy posts from Scott on “abiding in Jesus” will continue. For as long as He pours Himself into me, they will continue to come out of me like water from a fire hydrant. Someone out there, like the woman I met a couple of days ago, may benefit.
You too, have an outpouring to give as spontaneously as Mary of Bethany, if God is pouring Himself into you today. And if you are abiding in the Vine, the sap of the Vine will flow through you like a river, and it will be as hard for you as it is for me, and Mary of Bethany, not to burst with an outpouring as well.
And who knows? Someone might benefit from your outpouring, not by “liking” or “following” you — the person pouring out the perfume onto Jesus — but by turning their eyes to the One who is even more extravagant in pouring Himself out for us.