Fruit or Results: Which Equates to Success?

In my life, I like things to happen fast. I often forget that I’m a piece to a much bigger puzzle. I forget that my visions and dreams may be fulfilled, not by me, but by my children or my children’s children, for whom I am paving the foundation through obedience now, enabling them to do what I never could in my life.

Like Asaph (in Psalm 73), who nearly gave up on God, I’ve been tempted to fight a lesser battle because of the craziness and confusion of life—and what’s not in it for me. Then, I sadly think of all the people who did give up, when in reality their life was strategically orchestrated by God as an integral link in His overall plan. They didn’t understand this side of God, and gave up to a lesser god, or lesser faith, because life didn’t go like they figured it should.

Most people judge life by the now-and-present results instead of the eternal fruit. Our society expects quick results, believing that if something doesn’t yield positive results in a short period of time, then something is wrong. But this view is both erroneous and destructive. I have been through God’s press, where I have been stripped, pruned, and uprooted. More than once, I was tempted to feel betrayed by God during a hard season of life. That process, though, produced fruit in my life. But the tangible results, that man would like to see, were less apparent.

Generally, results make more sense than fruit to man, but fruit makes more sense to God than performance results.

I’m thankful I don’t always have to produce positive evidence to validate my choices in life, or to give credence to what God is doing in me, or through me. I may never understand my pivotal place in God’s program until it is all finished. I am also learning not to judge other people by my shortsighted standards. I’ve realized that I can’t always figure out what God is doing in me, much less accurately figure out His dealings with others.

Larry Hill, in an address to students on “Transgenerational Vision,” said, “We can never really fully judge a person’s life until we see his children and grandchildren. The power to change the future is with us in the present. Transgenerational thinkers know that everything God is going to do will not be accomplished through one person or one generation. They plan and act with great wisdom and strategy to prepare future generations to change nations.”

The key to multiplying your influence into eternity is planting seeds. Your parents may have planted bad seeds, producing a harvest that you have had to reap. Galatians 6:7 says, “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Every good seed you plant is a seed that will grow into eternity. You may only have one or two seeds to plant, but even one righteous seed sown will grow into a harvest of fruit, containing many, many more seeds to plant. Every act against God is an unrighteous seed that will yield a curse, but every righteous act is a seed that will bring forth fruit for eternity.

What we are now is largely due to what the fathers and mothers of the past invested, or did not invest in us, for God’s works are transgenerational. What you and I are building now may be only the foundation for the palace our children will build.

 

An Answer to the Discouraged

Many people of God have been discouraged and disillusioned because they didn’t produce results according to the contemporary definition of success. Their results perhaps fell short of expectations, but the fruit of their life was designed to come to fruition in the hands of the next generation. Abraham sure could have quit, but he believed and God brought, and is still bringing, his faith to fruition through His promise to Abraham. God’s promise to Abraham was not fulfilled in his lifetime, and neither will all His promises to us be fulfilled in our lifetime.

Perhaps you find yourself quite discouraged about your supposed failures—you’re weary from the struggle. Maybe you feel as if your life has been a waste in all respects. Be encouraged, for God’s goodness stretches far beyond what is happening to you at this moment!

I’ve had many dreams, many promises. Some of them I put on the “Missed God” shelf—I only thought I heard God! Then I saw something precious happening. My oldest daughter Angel began fulfilling my heart in one area. Then I noticed Daniel, my oldest son, reaching up and pulling a few of my dreams off the “Missed God” shelf for himself. Then Charity began fulfilling my vision. Others, not my natural children, but spiritual children, are moving out in what I imparted to them.

 

The Bigger Puzzle

Think of all the wonderful biblical examples of people who unknowingly were pieces in a bigger puzzle and never understood the fullness of what God was doing to them and through them. We are inspired by all the mighty miracles found in the Bible, reading from one verse to the next within minutes. Yet we forget about the time gap between those miracles (they may have been hundreds of years in between). Where was God during those gaps? How about the Israelites who were slaves to the Egyptians for over 400 years? They cried out for freedom, but generation after generation, after generation, never saw their Deliverer or their deliverance. But, I believe, their cries all counted toward the time deliverance would come. (Next time you read through the Bible, take note of the generations that lived in captivity, or were in-between the major moves of God.)

Consider the story of Ruth, a story of utter tragedy! But from a place of tragedy came about a royal lineage, one that would impact history like nothing else ever will. What about Daniel? Daniel had no idea the impact his life had on the future. Imagine the grief and confusion he experienced being carried away as a captive to a foreign land. And what about Esther? How could she have ever known as a girl, she would change the fate of her people—an entire nation?

I recognize my place in God’s overall plan may not be something I could ever understand here and now. Sometimes that discourages me. When my prayers to change my temporary trials don’t happen right away, or perhaps in years, I have to remember what 2 Peter 3:8 says,

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

A thousand years to God is as one day—what a contrast! You and I weren’t created to see ourselves in terms of blocks of history. But in the midst of God’s overall, long-term, age-to-age program is the joy of walking with our Father, who short-term still cares fervently for each and every aspect of our lives. Even the hairs on our heads are numbered!

And just so you don’t feel lost in the portholes of history, I’ll close with a summary of portions from Psalm 139 (in my own words).

Oh, Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up. You read my mind continually. You go behind me and in front of me, and you know all my ways. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I run from Your presence? If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. I will praise You, for I am wonderfully made.

To live life and then fail to pass on the wisdom I have acquired, whether to my own children or to those I’ve mentored, seems to me to be close to the ultimate failure. Each of us should see ourselves as important pieces of the future. By the way, if you don’t have children of your own, you can still sow into the lives of others as spiritual mother or father.

My Prayer Today: May we perpetuate the good life God has given us by reproducing it in those who will carry it into the future, build on it, and pass it on again!

Comments (241)


Diane Burkholder's picture

Diane Burkholder

Oct 08, 2016 12:35 AM

missed God shelf

Without me telling you, you will never know You've been a spiritual Father to me. My daddy died when I was 4 years old and because of words you spoke I reached up on my Mom and Dad's missed God shelf and saw myself created in God's image. Because of The Great I am I realize how great I am.Do not let up, shut up or give up!!!!

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