A few weeks ago I went into a “must-do-something-useful-with-my-life-mode”. Every now and then I flip into this mode, usually after talking to a “full-time” missionary or reading about Heidi Baker, or some Christian super-hero.
So I set to work and formed a beautiful plan of all the things I would do to ensure that my life was useful and “fruitful”. There were a couple of major flaws in the plan though:
1) They didn’t really fit with the season of life that I’m in (mum of three young children/ husband who travels)
2) They were about primarily about feeding my own insecurities and self-ambition.
One of my older, wiser friends pointed out the flaws in the plan. She graciously asked me a few questions and made a few observations. Her email to me said:
What I sense is some frustration, or restlessness, maybe because you feel (wrongly) that you have no specific ministry. Are you searching for something to do? Are you feeling this from God or from a sense of restlessness?
I realised I was frustrated with so much of my life taken up looking after the kids and serving Rich and his ministry. Really what I wanted to do was make a name for myself, to feel capable, and to feel “useful”. These are legitimate human needs. I just was looking for them in the wrong place. I wanted my needs for Identity, Affirmation and Purpose to be met through what I do, rather than in who I am. Or more to the point, who He is. And who He says I am.
Today I was reading a beautiful translation of Jesus words in John 15:
Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. 5I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me.
My most fruitful place, my ONLY truly fruitful place, is the place where I’m joined to the vine, where my heart is communing with Jesus and all that I do overflows out of that. Who I am, who you are, is the most precious thing we have to give to Jesus. I can wobble here, there and everywhere worrying about whether or not I’m doing enough. But really we’re just called to be friends of Jesus, and to disciple others to do the same. When we live like this the overflow of our lives is fruitfulness.
Now I’m not saying here that we just sit on our backsides all day. Kingdom work can certainly be hard work, throwing all of our energy and effort into what we’re called to do. But it should never be “striving” (human effort with no dependence on God). It is healthy to assess our hearts and our motivation for what we are “doing”. The plans that we make, the things that we do, and the way that we live our lives are fruitful only when the root is in Jesus.
The last part of my friend’s email read:
When I say that you are a person who just needs to “be”, I’m actually saying that as a person you have so much to give. I feel that you have not understood or believed that you have such a beautiful spirit. Anna, you do have a ministry. What an amazing person you are – able to just “be”.
I share that excerpt because these words aren’t unique to me. Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, if you are following Jesus the same can be said of you. You have a beautiful spirit – it’s called the Spirit of Jesus. And though we may be pretty messy, broken and imperfect, we have the Spirit of Jesus within us. And that Spirit is a spirit of Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. *
So today, connected to the Vine, let’s BE the person God has made us to be. BE Jesus to those around us. BE Jesus in our workplace. BE Jesus to our family, our friends, our neighbours. BE Jesus in whatever, wherever, to whomever He has called us.
One by one lives will be changed.
posted by Anna
*phrase taken from Jesus Storybook Bible