1.11.2011

manure & figs

Great sermon today {Sunday}. Still waiting for a "so-so" one though ;-) 
Luke 13:6-8 And He told this parable:  "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' And He answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" 
So many good reminders and, as our Pastor said, so kind of God to land us on this chapter at this point in time. Passages like these are excellent to dig into when you're in a place like starting off a new year.
Its good to take personal inventory and reflect on the last 12 months of life, ask those key questions and search out any new direction God might be taking you. But I agree with his idea of doing this much more often. Don't wait for the 1st of the year. Do this at the first of every month :) 

The message was perfect for me. I wonder if a lot of people felt that way. I often wish pastors would preach on fruitfulness/usefulness in the day-to-day, about once a month. But I think that's where our daily Bible reading comes into play. 
Its in messages like today's where the Holy Spirit brings that new/fresh conviction of - Stefanie, you meet with God daily in your Bible reading and prayer TO stay on track. To find joy and peace and calmness, in the midst of what often feels like a marry-go-round that just won't stop. Not to check it off your to-do list, so you can carry on with other guilty pleasures and other activities.


Being busy isn't bad. Having a full plate doesn't mean we're in sin. Having to step back and say "no" every so often doesn't mean our priorities are out of whack. But are we being busy, simply to feel busy? Are we doing so much outward, that the inward is dying? If anyone were to look at your personal, private life, would they suddenly shy away from spending too much time with you? Are you a mess inside, but acting busy and together on the outside? I know sometimes I am. 
You know how lately you rarely see a teenage boy/girl walking around without head phones plugged into their ears? Or they've got their cell phones 2 inches from their face, being sure not to miss a single text or email or FB notice? I think they do that to feel preoccupied & busy. Otherwise 90% of the time they'd feel very much alone. So they fill their ears with loud music, consume their eyes and mind with the texting and the emailing and the Youtubing {did I just make up a new term?!} They take up time and space with stuff and at the end of the day, if they casually think "what did I do with my time today?" they can honestly answer "man, was I busy!" Because they were. Busy doing nothing of value though. 


Is too much of my busyness preventing me from actually being fruitful? That's what the main thrust of our sermon was on today. Is your busyness producing fruitfulness. Are we busy doing what's going to really matter? Are we busy in an organized, clear direction, laid out plans way? Or are we running through life like a chicken with our head cut off, treating our family, church, and community more like rotten leftovers than the main areas of ministry God's given us?


And then to look deeper into the goodness and mercy of God. That even during those times when we do our reflecting and actually have to say "wow, last year produced way more manure than it did figs" - God doesn't cut us off. He doesn't chalk us up to useless and wasteful. He reminds us that if we take the manure we've been allowing to collect in our day-to-day lives and turn it into good seed and really begin to cultivate the roots of our life, then we can literally turn the manure into healthy, flourishing figs!
Here are a couple ways {not all} that our pastor encouraged us in, to help us be fruitful in this coming year. 
 *To read through the Bible this year; adding a study Bible with notes if we're able.
*To challenge ourselves to spend good, quality time in the Word and in prayer every.single.day.
*To take special time away with our spouse, simply for discussing life, 
planning out the next year {or go week-by-week if that's more practical}
And this doesn't mean it has to be a weekend getaway. Sometimes that in and of itself isn't practical for where we're at in life. But instead of busying ourselves with stuff to do in the evening {whatever that stuff is for you personally} set some of those hours aside to check in mentally with your spouse. To take inventory of your family life and your relationship as a couple. Pull out the bad weeds and plant good, rich soil. 


Sometimes that is so hard for me personally to do. I love the little things that make my day more fun. I love all the little habits I have that tend to fill many, many minutes {which turn into hours} of my day.
So saying good bye to even some of those things, though I know its going to be good change, its hard. Because its denying more of me. Denying more of what I've convinced myself I deserve. Denying what I've been convincing myself is of deeper, higher value than it is.


Anyway, this topic and the sermon were so perfect for me, for where I'm at right now. Ever since I began home schooling Ethan, doing part time pre-K work with Rachel, adding pre-school {casual} things with Kara, I've learned that in order to still keep our home flowing in a smooth, consistent, happy way, I need to be on top of ME first. I need to start the day off right. It needs to start and end with God. 
The other day a lady at the grocery store saw the kids and me shopping. I think she heard me helping Ethan add up how many pounds of apples I was buying and then figure out the cost. She came over to me and said "I've been watching you and your children for about 10 minutes and I just want to say, keep up the good work. Keep enjoying them. I wish I had enjoyed mine. It goes by so fast. I don't know how on earth you look so sane." I thanked her and then said, "its all God... and I'm not kidding." :) 
Her eyes filled with tears and she nodded and simply said "Yes, I think so." 
I told her that on the days when I forget I'm not in control of the universe and days when I think I've got my schedule and flow of life under control - we don't look so relaxed and happy. My kids are whinny, I'm easily annoyed and mentally exhausted, my husband feels like an after thought, my house looks like an after thought, and inwardly, I feel like I'm spiraling out of control. Those are days when by about 3pm, I can stop and think "what went wrong here?!" and before I finish my thought, I know exactly what went wrong. I went wrong. 


This time of life many of us Moms are in is physically difficult, for sure. I think its becoming more mentally difficult the older the kids get. And I don't know about you, but I often hear sermons like these and feel like "Lord, how will You have ME be fruitful?! Can I really make a difference or shine YOU to others while wiping messy faces, kissing boo-boos, repeating myself what feels like eight thousand times,  doing laundry, working through school subjects, making dinner, doing dishes and wiping bottoms?" That's when He reminds me that even in those things I can show God's love to my husband and kids first. Its a great place to get practice ;-) 
When God brings those opportunities for me to be out and about being fruitful and useful to those around me, then I will take them! 


I hope you all have a wonderful week! 



5 {comments}:

Gina said...

Stef--this is so good! I can really relate to so much of it. It even reflects a few conversations John & I have been having about what our aim should be and how we can help that happen. Thanks for this. :-)

Stef said...

I'm glad Gina, thanks! And you're welcome :)

DLJ said...

Neat. Thanks for sharing.

Gina said...

Stef--this is so good! I can really relate to so much of it. It even reflects a few conversations John & I have been having about what our aim should be and how we can help that happen. Thanks for this. :-)

Stef said...

I'm glad Gina, thanks! And you're welcome :)

 

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