This morning before church, I discover this quote from Henri Nouwen. He says, “Jesus never asked us to be productive. Jesus asked us to be fruitful.”
I’m thinking about this distinction quite a bit these days. So many things around us pressure us into productivity and accomplishment. But a life of deep abiding in Christ isn’t necessarily productive. It’s fruitful. The difference? A productive life often keeps us busy, frantic, and exhausted. It’s disconnected from God’s leading and empowering. A fruitful life, on the contrary, keep us hidden in Christ, connected to His outcomes, and committed to the Sprit-filled life. It’s a listening life. It’s a gentle life. It’s a life, however, that bears much fruit that lasts.
My great friend and mentor told me once that, sure, I could bear fruit. I could have a fruitful life that seems very spiritual and productive. “You can bear fruit, but it won’t be fruit that lasts” unless it originates with, is empowered by, and accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
So today I take a deep breath. I pray for God to bear much fruit–fruit that will last–in my life today. It won’t be a productive day, but it will be fruitful.
If you’ve read along each day, you’re almost finished with the book of Psalms. Congratulations! On November 1, you can start again! You might also consider reading a Proverb each day to finish that book in a month. So fun! Today I noticed Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” As a younger woman, I came to Jesus most of all with my broken heart. You might have heartbreak today. You might need healing and binding up right now. I pray you experience God as your healer as I have.
I’ve always loved the hope in Psalm 143:8 where David writes, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.” I picture David going to bed after a really bad day. He thinks that, surely, tomorrow will be better. He retires with the hope of good news in the morning. This disposition of heart makes me excited for the gifts each fresh day brings. How will the loving news come today? What demonstration of steadfast love will arrive to us this morning? May it come. May we perceive it.
In Psalm 138:8, we read this comforting statement: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” When I worry about the future or wonder if I’m living out my purpose, I turn to God and remember this verse. It’s a simple sentence to repeat throughout the day and meditate on. It’s also a great spiritual practice to recount how we’ve already seen the Lord arranging our lives towards the purposes we now live out. And no matter how young or old we are, God is working to fulfill a purpose for us.
Psalm 133:1 offers a great challenge and a vision for one’s attitude, speech, and behavior. We read, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” As so many conversations work to divide and incite others against each other, I think about these questions: Does this attitude, speech, or behavior work to bring people together or does it cause division? Am I working to unite people or separate them? Do I sow seeds of dissension and discord or peace and warmth between others? I want to dwell in unity.
In Psalm 128, we read this great promise: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” I always take note when I read about the blessing of fruitful work. How wonderful to labor and then enjoy the product of hard work! We might step into this blessing today (how perfect for a Monday morning!). Also consider the promise that it shall be well with us. I think of the deepest kind of well-being–deeper than our physical circumstances. It’s a soul-happiness and a wellness deeper than emotion.
Psalm 121 reveals a God who keeps us. We read “The Lord is your keeper . . . The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” We read the verb–which translates to guard and to carefully watch over–six times in this psalm alone. The point: God keeps us. We are in His careful possession at all times.
My friend inspired me once to read Psalm 119 every day. It’s just so wonderful! I love this line: “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” I think about areas of life where we feel “unsteady” or unsure of ourselves. What a great request of God: Steady our steps! Let us know if sin is beginning to rule us in any area! Amen!
In Psalm 112:7-8, we receive a picture of an extraordinarily mature person. We read, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid.” What a peaceful heart! What a way to live! I think about this verse because of what one must believe about God to enjoy this firm, steady heart that fears nothing–even whatever bad news will come. It’s the deepest kind of surrender.