Anyone else a little weary these days? I find myself tired sometimes before I even start the day. Political conflict, divisive arguing, virus protection and discussion, people’s problems and our own—all of it makes us exhausted and spent very quickly.
Sometimes, I forget to remember that my worth is not defined by productivity, or stick-to-it-ness. Sometimes when I’m weary, I end up berating myself with guilt on top of things—and it’s a terrible perfect storm to make it even worse. Instead of walking in step with Jesus, and being the branch on the Vine that requires His Life to do anything that sows into the Spirit-life, I get distracted thinking it’s all up to me and I better get with it. As much as that looks like sowing good seed, it’s actually my flesh trying to sort it out on my own, and it’s unproductive.
I was chatting with a friend recently who gave me a great reminder. She told me that her friend had made her a little sign that asked “What are we doing today, Jesus?” My friend hung it across from her bed, so every morning when she woke up, it was the first thing she saw. What a difference it makes to wake up in step with Jesus and to keep coming back to that, rather than pushing off on our own agenda of what we think we need to accomplish today.
Mike Wells used to have an illustration about how our flesh makes plastic fruit, which looks really nice but is not nutritious or delicious at all. Instead it might break your tooth when trying to eat it! Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5) is actually helpful to the Body, but it isn’t produced by straining and struggling. You never walk into a vineyard and hear the vine branches straining to produce grapes. Instead, the life of the vine flows through the branches, and fruit is a natural outflow of that. The same is true with sowing to the Spirit-life throughout our day. It isn’t a matter of working ourselves to death because then we look productive or saintly, but rather accepting our worth is already bestowed on us by Jesus and working out of that place of already being loved.
I have come to realize that most of the time when I start to get weary and heavy-laden, it’s because I have changed my focus. I no longer look to Christ’s Life and His Spirit within me to see what we are doing today and how He is going to empower me, but I am obsessing on what I think needs to happen and how I can’t get enough done. I have switched my focus and my worship to my to-do list or to trying to define myself by a myriad of different accomplishments. And none of them are fulfilling or satisfying, so I have to keep pushing to find more. It’s a hamster wheel of flesh trying to prove that I am loved and accepted. But I have forgotten that I already AM loved and accepted, and I don’t need to do one thing to earn that!
Instead, I get to wake up each day and continue to move forward with my eyes focused firmly on the One who has bestowed worth and love on me. When I move in connection with Him, empowered by His Spirit, I don’t get discouraged by lack of productivity. Because whatever I’m doing isn’t a struggle of my own strength (or lack thereof) and willpower. The amazing thing also is that often I actually get more accomplished throughout my day, but not because I am defined by the list. It is a sweetness of relationship with Jesus that allows me to keep moving forward in getting things done, but it is meaningful and lasting because it is Spirit-led rather than flesh-led.
How do you know whether it’s flesh or Spirit activity? I would suggest you look at two things—whether or not you determine your worth based on the accomplishment, and how you feel as you go along. If you believe you have to get such-and-such finished in order to define yourself, you are in dangerous territory. And if you feel spent and sick of all of it, this is usually a good call back to Jesus, to check in and find out how He is empowering you today to deal with even the most frustrating scenario.
If God Himself is empowering us to keep planting good seeds as we walk in relationship with Him, we don’t have to grow weary or disheartened. And if you are, let Him encourage you to keep going, lifting your head and carrying you onward.
The harvest you reap reveals the seed that was planted. If you plant the corrupt seeds of self – life into this natural realm, you can expect to experience a harvest of corruption. If you plant the good seeds of Spirit-life you will reap the beautiful fruits that grow from the everlasting life of the Spirit. And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith! Galatians 6:8-10