Rooted and Bearing Fruit

This month’s Recalibrate Life’s read is Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. After reading just the first two chapters in I was convicted.

Larson asks some very important questions about what we are saying yes to in life. As well as, leading her readers to find our reasons for saying yes. She asks if our choices are “rooted in the Vine” and if they are rooted, “is there fruit evident”?

The first two chapters of this book made me do some serious re-evaluating. My re-evaluation process has involved looking at my relationships, my responsibilities, and my ministry activites. I am taking each one before the Lord.

Sometimes we just do and do because we feel we have to, it seems right, we think we should for whatever reason. But we miss what about the doing really matters to the Lord. I am learning more and more how different my ideas are from the Lord’s. What I think is important about an activity or relationship and what makes something seemingly successful is not necessarily fruitful in the Lord’s eyes.

Bearing fruit is not about producing for God, making things happen. Bearing fruit by abiding is about changes in my heart’s attitude, living out His love, and how I behave towards others day-in-and-day-out. It’s about growing in Christlikeness, yielding to Him working through me, no matter what the job is, no matter who the relationship is with. It’s not so much about what we are doing, but rather about how we are doing it. It changes how we do what we do.

You see, I want my life to really matter, yet when I look at much of what I’m doing, it doesn’t feel like it really does or at least not according to my way of thinking. I often think more in terms of what I am doing rather than how I am doing it. The Lord is showing me what He sees. He is showing me what matters to Him.

I tell Him I feel like a failure and I must disappoint Him. But He shows me that He sees me through the lens of Christ’s grace. He wants me to grow rooted in Him. He wants an ongoing, constant, moment-by-moment relationship. But abiding isn’t easy, I go off on my own little tangents of striving and get too busy or distracted to listen.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a flowering plant and bring it home how when you transplant it, it stops flowering? It puts all of it’s energy into the rooting process. When it is rooted, then it begins flowering again.

Learning to abide means putting all your energy into rooting in Him. I need to put my energy into rooting more and more in Him. I’ll only find true satisfaction when I’m bearing fruit that brings Him glory. Abiding and bearing fruit may simply be loving the unlovable, leading the unsaved one to see the reality of Christ by living Christ-like, or sharing with the needy because of the Spirit’s nudge. It isn’t necessarily big and epic in the eyes of the world, but it is what matters to the Lord. All the rest of my striving to prove myself is just empty busyness that often exhausts and overwhelms.

So my focus and intent are key. I desire that my focus be on just abiding in the Lord. And I want my intent to be living as the aroma of His love. That is the reality of what bearing fruit is.

What about you, are you abiding in Him?

Are you bearing fruit? Or are you stressing and striving to accomplish your own stuff?

It is easy to get off track. Thankfully, He is gracious and knows our weakness. So we keep going back to Him, and He welcomes us in His gracious love. He delights in us, and gives us space to try again. I need many chances to try again, how about you?

*Photo from Unsplash, by Kevin Young.

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Living Intentionally or on Autopilot

Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way O LORD and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.”

How would you describe your life — are you living intentionally or are you running through life on autopilot?

I have been working my way through the book “He Restores My Soul” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. This past week focused on having a steadfast heart. She talked about setting our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). A steadfast heart is an undivided heart. It is a heart with deliberate and intentionally focused on God and His Word.

In Jan Johnson’s book Abundant Simplicity, she states, “We allow purity of heart to grow by willing one thing only –an ever-expanding life with God. Our falling in love with God should be what decides everything in our lives. Johnson goes on to say that “[the] single-minded person does the next single thing that is needed in order to focus on God instead of giving into the automatic response of the past. To treasure God is to have a single-focused life (Matthew 6:19-23).”

Living in simplicity is all about focus, and as a Christian it is about focusing on God. My life to this point mostly would not be described by the word “simplicity.” I am sure busy, overwhelming, exhausting, and distracted are words that describe my life much more accurately. But on the road to recalibrating my life I am seeking simplicity in all of it. And in order to get there it will much more about being intentional, rather than living on autopilot.

So, just how do they look different? I think autopilot is all about doing what you feel you need to do, or what you know needs to be done. And sometimes that means running scattered as you put out fires. When we lack intentionality Johnson says we “[scatter] our time and energy among things that don’t fit with what we really want. And in doing so we live in frustration. Johnson attributes our frustration to not responding to God’s longing within us. In my last post I shared about how I was Learning to Long for God.

I have felt like I have lived on autopilot, racing through life with an endless to-do list and my pencil to check things off. And for the most part, without a thought about my longings or God’s longings. I only know I got to the end of most every day feeling very frustrated. I guess I always attributed that to not accomplishing everything on my list of to-do’s. But I am realizing it as more about my divided heart living with unsatisfied longings. This left me feeling discontent and restless. It always felt like there should be more. But who could fit one more thing into the day?

My endless to-do list kept me so busy that I had no time to listen to God or to the longings of my heart. But the discipline of simplicity gives us an invitation to “lay aside every weight that hinders us” (Hebrews 12:1). Sometimes the things we need to lay aside may be “good things” but they are things that lead us to be distracted and keep us from being focused. Whereas living intentionally, Johnson explains, “means replacing autopilot by living “deliberately” as Henry David Thoreau called it.”

When we choose simplicity and live with intentionality we have to take time to do some re-evaluating. I think the first step in this is taking time to soul-search deep within to better understand our longings. And from there we seek the Lord to help us learn how are longings lead us back to Him. We have to take time to hear Him speak into our hearts and lives.

Then once we have taken the time to allow our longings to lead us back to God, we can begin to choose deliberateness in life, and we can choose what we want to be intentional about. Those choices become our focus. We stop running in twenty different directions and choose a few things.

I look at our home and see closets filled with various projects left undone. Books fill my bookshelves, many I began reading and never finished. It seems life on autopilot follows any whim. But recalibrating my life now means choosing intentionality. So I am being deliberate about what fills my home, my mind, my calendar, and all of life. My longings, the ones I followed back to God’s heart lead me. I have chosen a few important points of focus for my life right now.

1- Loving my husband and those closes to my heart with the love the Lord lavishes on me.

What this means for me is that I deliberately choose what demonstrates that love, and as I do I feel the Lord feeding and satisfying my love-hunger. The Lord is love, yet I have consistently tried to earn love from people in this world by striving and manipulating and sad to say, it has mostly left me empty. So my longing for love leads me to the only One Who can satisfy my heart with His love. And He leads me in learning how to love others.

2– Writing (blogposts and hopefully, a book.)

I have loved to journal and write from little on. But again writing can become another place to strive– a place to earn accolades. And so when I take the longing of writing to the Lord it becomes about sharing His truth. I see that what so often turns into pressure to grow an audience or complete a book or just write more to say I did. But now it is no longer about those things. I am finding joy in touching one heart at a time with God-truths as He grows faith in me and helps me to know Him more and more. It goes back to letting the Spirit nudge my heart with a verse or a word that prompts a post or a chapter. It’s about learning of Him and His love and sharing that. What feeds my writing is being deliberate and intentional in spending time with Him and in His Word.

3– Making a simple life by simplifying my home.

Clutter leads to anxiety and chaos. And seeing closets full and boxes filled with old projects or unnecessary on-a-whim purchases that have gone unused leads me to long for a simpler way. I want to focus on what we need and what is easy to keep clean. I want our home to only hold within its walls things that we love which have meaning and usefulness. Overwhelm and busyness can be created in part from having to constantly organize and clean stuff.

So taking my longings for peace and quiet in life to the Lord has led me to see all I can give away. And, in doing so, it makes room for so much more. No, not more stuff, but more time to enjoy what I have and those I love and the things I want to do. Wanting more, trying to fill the empty hole inside is a sin-sickness that I am taking to the Lord. I can never fill that hole and find contentment on my own. The contentment comes from the One Who satisfies my soul as I seek Him for gifts that really matter.

As I took my surface longings to the Lord, I found that my deeper longings are about being treasured and cherished, listened to and seen, being loved and having community, and about knowing peace and contentment within. Yes, there are definitely outward things I desire but I cannot make them satisfy my deeper longings– only God can. And it is in being intentional and focused on my life in the Lord and His Word that I can grow in my day-to-day life finding joy in abundant simplicity of my own choosing.

I am trying not to live on autopilot anymore, but instead, in this season, I am trying to recalibrate my life by living intentionally. What about you, are you living in autopilot or are you living intentionally?

*Featured image photographed by Paul Varnum on Unsplash.