“Hi, Branch. What are you doing there all alone? I have been looking for you,” said the vine to the branch.
“Oh, hello Vine. I’m sorry if I kept you looking,” the branch replied sounding a bit embarrassed. “Well, I was just trying to make some improvements on myself. I just want to bear more fruits just like the others.”
“So how is it going? How’s your progress so far?” Vine asked.
Branch answered, “Well, I think I’m doing okay. There are things that I’m getting better at. But I think there’s something wrong with me. Why can’t I bear more fruits just like the others? Why can’t I be more perfect like you?“
“Oh, I see,” Vine replied. “While I appreciate your desire to become more like me, what makes you think you can do it while being detached from me?”
“I’m so sorry,” the branch said. “I’m too ashamed to go near you because you’re too perfect. I feel like I need to take care of my messes and imperfections first so I can be worthy of being associated with you.”
“My dear Branch, you have always been a part of me and will always be no matter how imperfect you may be. Look at the other branches connected to me. Aren’t they still full of blemishes and flaws? But notice how fruitful they are even if they’re not perfect.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice that,” said the branch.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10 ESV)
You may be having a not so ideal week but that doesn’t stop you from being fruitful.
I failed in publishing my blog post on time this week.
Does this mean that I have become unproductive?
I’m not making any excuses for why I wasn’t able to publish a post last Tuesday. I simply failed in my weekly commitment and I take full responsibility for that. I know I can do better next time.
I know I was unproductive in the area of blogging this week but in my family, I wasn’t. I took care of our son, Zion at the hospital and I know I spent my time well with my family despite not being able to meet my blogging deadline.
Now I have time to write this blog post so I’m catching up on my weekly commitment. This may be a few days late but as they say, better late than never.
What I have learned this week is that you can still be productive despite your failures. Actually, the only way to fruitfulness is by failing. The only way to live a productive life is by dying to yourself.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
JOHN 12:24 NIV
It is in our weakness that God is glorified. It is in our failure that God makes us fruitful.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
GALATIANS 2:20 NIV
God’s approach to productivity is counterintuitive. This is usually the way of the Kingdom. The way up is the way down. It’s an upside-down kingdom.
Jesus, although divine, lived as a hundred percent human here on earth. He did not rely on his superhuman strength as a divine being but instead relied on the strength of the Father living inside of him.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
JOHN 5:19 NIV
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
JOHN 6:57 KJV
The only way to be fruitful is to live this life by the indwelling life of God in us. What we need is to be filled with God more, not more productivity strategies and tactics. And the way to be filled with the Spirit is to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature, our flesh.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
ROMANS 8:12-13 NASB
Here are some steps you can do right now to practice living in the Spirit. Don’t worry, this will only take around 10 minutes to practice:
Call on the name of Jesus and ask for his help.
Admit that you can’t live this life without him. Say something like this: “I need you Jesus. I need your wisdom and guidance.” Do this for around 1 to 2 minutes.
Ask God who to serve.
Write in your journal or on your favorite notes app the following: “Who do you want me to serve today, God?”
Listen to what God says and take note of the persons that come across your mind. Ask God and confirm with him whether that is the person you should serve today. List 1 to 3 names.
Ask God how you can serve these people.
It may be as simple as praying for them or helping them with something.
Practice these steps at the start of each day and see how God enables you to become fruitful every day.
I simply couldn’t keep running at the same pace as this expert runner. I might as well do it without him and run at my comfortable pace.
The only problem is I don’t know the way to the finish line.
Life feels like this most of the time. You keep doing things your way and at your comfortable pace. But without the help of an expert, it’s impossible to finish complicated tasks.
On the other hand, it can get too tiring and burdensome trying to keep up with the pace of an expert. It’s impossible to follow every step of the expert without him slowing things down for your sake.
The good thing is, there is another way.
There is an expert who knows the way to the finish line but is humble and gentle at the same time. He slows things down for you so you can follow and he doesn’t leave you behind. He speeds things up at times but just enough to keep you challenged and make you grow.
Read Matthew 11:28-30 and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
That was the prisoner's answer to the king's request.
How dare he say no to the king!
It is highly disrespectful to turn down a request of the king, let alone a Pharaoh who was considered to be a god-king.
What was the man thinking?
Was the king's request too difficult for him to do?
The god-king had been troubled by a dream. All the wise men and magicians could not interpret his dream for him. So he ordered a man to be brought out of prison to help him interpret his dream. This man was highly recommended by the king's chief cupbearer since he was able to interpret his dream for him some years ago.
So here he was, in front of the king to hear his request.
The prisoner knew this was the moment he had been waiting for. He had been in prison for two years for a crime he didn't commit. He had been longing for an opportunity like this, to find favor in the eyes of the king and take him out of that dungeon.
The king said to the prisoner, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
"I cannot do it," the man replied to the king.
Perhaps the god-king was not expecting that kind of answer from the prisoner.
"You cannot do it? I thought you were the one my cupbearer was speaking so highly about." Maybe the king was thinking these words when he heard the man's answer. But the man was not yet done speaking.
"But God will give the king the answer he desires," said the prisoner to the god-king.
You probably know by now who this prisoner is.
Joseph knew that dream interpretations belong to God. Yes, he can interpret dreams but he was not doing it by himself. It was God giving him the interpretations. He was just a spokesperson.
He interpreted two of his co-prisoner's dreams two years ago and the interpretations were both spot on. Now it was time for him to interpret the god-king's dream and Joseph doesn't hesitate to give God all the credit. He knew he needed to find favor with Pharaoh so he could have simply shown off his dream interpretation skills and finally be set free from prison. But he chose to give God all the credit.
"I CANNOT DO IT… BUT GOD WILL."
These words jumped out of the pages of my Bible when I was reading the story of Joseph a few days ago. These words are still reverberating in my spirit right now.
This is such a powerful statement and I think I want to integrate these words into my life.
I admire Joseph's boldness and confidence in God. He knew he could not interpret dreams on his own, but he was sure that God would do it for him.
May I be able to say those words as well…
When I'm faced with a difficult problem, I pray that I will be able to say, "I cannot solve this problem but God will help me solve this!"
When I'm thinking about how I can provide for my family, may I be able to say to myself, "I cannot provide for my family but God will provide for us!
When I'm thinking about how I can consistently write a blog post every single week for one year, may I find myself saying, "I cannot write this article but God will help me find the words to write!"
When I'm struggling to stay productive for the day, may I find hope in these words saying, "I cannot become productive on my own but God will make me fruitful!"
I woke up at 4:00 am this morning so I may be able to finish writing this article and publish it on time. I know all too well that I cannot write this on my own. But I know God will give me the words to write.
So here it is. I hope you’ll find this post helpful and add value to you.
I have been trying to come up with a good article I can publish here. I’ve been working hard but I just couldn’t write anything good. It seems that I don’t have any good ideas I can write about. And I’m running out of time.
So I decided to rest for a while.
You would not believe this, but after a 30-minute nap my blog post is complete!
How could that possibly happen? No one writes an article by sleeping on it!
Well, it just happened to me.
This is that article.
Now let me just click that publish button.
P. S. Working harder is not always the right solution to a problem. There are times when you just need to rest and sleep on it.