Hey y’all! Happy new year, and thanks for joining me on CoCo’s Chitchat today.
Last year contained so many awesome things, and even though I can’t believe it’s over, I was having a hard time remembering what I even did at the beginning of the year, lol. It feels like so long ago.
I won’t dwell on the highlights as much as I will on the lessons learned, but here’s a quick snapshot of my year:
It was an amazing year and I’m so, so grateful for everything I learned.
My word of the year for 2021 was “fruitful,” so throughout the year I paid special close attention to any mentions of the fruit of the Spirit, abiding in the Vine/John 15, and bearing fruit as a Christian. Productivity was constantly on my mind, and I was always looking for little ways to plant seeds in the lives of other people.
I initially chose that word because I knew I had signed up for a local missions trip and that I’d be starting Bible college in 2021, so it seemed like a good word to strive for–to be “fruitful.” I wanted to bring people to Christ and start getting involved in practical, hands-on ministry. However, that mind-set led to disappointment when my missions trip wasn’t everything I dreamed it would be, and to comparison when I arrived at college and saw other people doing more than me. My word kind of unintentionally changed to “favor” for the last couple of months, because although I was striving to be fruitful, I was also seeking after the favor of God and other people. And that’s a dangerous place to be, because it leads to a works-based salvation.
As I reflect on the past year, I can think of four main statements to wrap up what God taught me about fruitfulness:
1. We must remain in Him
Jesus says in John chapter 15:
Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.John 15:4-5
Any time we do something without God’s help, it’s going to fail. Or at least it won’t succeed to the degree it would have had we invited God into it. Bearing fruit starts with being rooted in our Life Source.
During one of his lectures on the fruit of the Spirit, my professor said, “The fruit of the Spirit is supernatural in origin,” and that blew my mind a little bit because I realized where I had been going wrong. I was trying to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit apart from the Spirit. And that doesn’t work.
No amount of good habits, routines, or spiritual disciplines will result in lasting fruit if we’re doing them for the sake of self-improvement. I’ve written a lengthy article on this topic in the past, but it’s a good reminder: Gospel-centered prayers ask for Kingdom-advancement, not just self-improvement.
2. We must tip our domino
Once we have a firm foundation, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and take our hands off. Just like a single domino falls and creates a chain reaction, so too does a Christian who is rooted in God and starts a fire in their circle of influence. If we play our part and tip our domino, more than we could ever imagine will fall after us. We don’t have to bear enough fruit to feed the world–we just have to bring our small loaves and fish and watch God multiply our obedience. God can change the world with a single “yes.”
I’m such a huge advocate for doing “small things with great love” (Mother Teresa) and working with excellence because I believe that’s how we best steward what we’ve been given. God may very well entrust us with more later on, but we have to start small. We have to start with tipping our domino.
Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.Luke 16:10
3. Life is survival of the persistent
This is a phrase I picked up from Win the Day by Mark Batterson early last year and was recently reminded of when I read back through my 2021 journal entries. I love it so much because it takes the faulty “survival of the fittest” and turns it into an invitation for everyone. We don’t have to be the best or the most qualified. The ingredients required for fruitfulness are 1) obedience to God, and 2) the willingness to persist even when things are hard.
Even if you failed last year–or yesterday–or an hour ago–it’s okay. Get back up again, right now. His mercies are new every morning and the sun always rises. If we give up now we’re giving up on all the seeds we’ve planted, but if we keep on we will reap what we sow.
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.Galatians 6:7-9
4. God doesn’t waste anything
I reminded myself of this so many times last year. Every time I was having a hard day, every time I was anxious about something I had to do, every time I wondered why in the world God had me where He did doing what I was doing, I told myself, “God doesn’t waste anything.”
You are where you are, doing what you’re doing, for a reason. You know what you know for a reason. You’ve read, watched, and heard everything you need to at this point in your life. If you were missing a vital piece of information, don’t you think God would have told you? Seriously. God isn’t like “well, you were supposed to know to wear red and shop at this store so that so-and-so would notice you and you’d end up marrying him, but now your life is ruined because you aren’t psychic and didn’t get the memo.”
We ought to just chill and stop stressing ourselves out with what we don’t know. God has been planting seeds in our hearts and minds our entire lives.
That class you took in middle school that fueled your passion for your future ministry? God put you there.
That awkward encounter you had five years ago but that helped you understand someone better today? God allowed it to happen and for that memory to resurface.
That random blog post you read and disregarded but later remembered a line from?
God was preparing you for something you had no idea was coming.
When I view little, every day moments through that lens, it helps me to stop complaining and start praising. Maybe I didn’t want to trip on the stairs in front of someone on the way to class, but who knows? Maybe it’ll end up as a silly illustration in a sermon some day and really resonate with someone. We don’t always know the reason for or full potential of what we go through. Everything matters and nothing is wasted.
To sum it up, being fruitful is the call of every Christian, but it isn’t about us. It’s about Christ’s work in us to bring glory to God.
And there you have it, some take-aways from my 2021! I was originally planning on telling y’all my new years resolutions in this post, but my reflections kind of took over so I’ll just have to write a second one XD
Thanks for reading! Comment down below if you had a word or phrase of the year or if you learned something similar! I’d love to hear what God is doing in y’all’s lives as we begin another year.
Until next time,