Going from Busy to Productive in an Unusual Way

In the field next to the parking lot at my daughter's school there is a large cluster of semi-trees. They're crowded branches, growing individually, all no bigger than a few inches in circumference.

If they were out of the ground, all attached to the same trunk with a healthy root system, they would form a gorgeous, complex tree. But instead of being connected to one strong trunk, they're all going at it alone, fighting for dominance and space to grow, with none of them thriving.

Jesus alone offers what I really need—living water, the bread of life, everything needed for life and godliness.

As I studied these trees while waiting to pick up my daughter one day, I thought about how easily my life becomes just like them. My days are filled with ten or twenty responsibilities, all fighting for dominance.

  • I should get up and do my Bible study homework, but I get sick when I don't sleep enough.
  • I should make my family breakfast, but I'm rushing to make a school lunch and help my daughter do the homework I should have made her do last night.
  • I should make a grocery list, but I need to fold this laundry.
  • I haven't blogged in weeks, but there are dishes to wash.
  • I'm teaching this, but haven't prepped enough.
  • I volunteered for that, but can't get it done in time.
  • I want to invite you over for coffee . . . but when?

So I look for tips on living a simpler life. I read that I should look for what's most important and do those things and cut out the rest. But how do I even choose? My trees are taking over and crowding each other, and I'm really not doing anything very well.

I have a friend who lives overseas in a large city where she doesn't speak the language fluently and has to rely on (sometimes unreliable) public transportation for even the simplest of tasks. Her life is "simple" not because she has followed all the tips, but because it has to be. When she visits the States, she's overwhelmed by how busy everyone is. It's a difficult adjustment.

But I think she would say it's too easy to make busyness the enemy.

My problem isn't all the trees, necessarily. My problem is that the trees are all going at it alone—they're fighting each other, rather than working together as part of a larger whole. These trees need a healthy trunk and a nourishing root system. And yes, some of them probably need to be pruned or cut away.

How truly productive I would be if I submitted all my little trees to Him, asking Him to prune and cut away what needed to be changed.

It's been said Jesus was the most productive person to ever live because He always did the Father's will (John 5:19–20). He was led by His Father, through the Holy Spirit, dependent upon the other two members of the Godhead for direction and power in His mission.

Miraculously, the same power is available to those who believe in the Son and His saving grace.

He is the vine; we are the branches. He says, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). But on too many days, my life is a messy result of trying to be productive on my own, carrying out my own idea of the will of the Father. My branches fight each other for limited nourishment, because I can only give each one so much. Therefore, my productivity—the produce of my branch—is stunted.

Jesus alone offers what I really need—living water, the bread of life, everything needed for life and godliness. God has prepared the works for me ahead of time, and I just get to walk in them, always abiding.

The idea of abiding isn't some mystical feeling. It's just a daily dependence on the Holy Spirit to shed light on the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ through Scripture. Boiled down, this really means knowing His Word and meditating on it, praying for the guidance and direction I so desperately need. But I need grace even to do that.

Here's my favorite part of that passage on the vine and the branches from John 15:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love (John 15:9).

The Father's love for the Son spills over in the Son's love for me . . . and for you. How much better would we branches be if we remembered the magnitude of the love with which we are loved?

And how truly productive would I be if I submitted all my little trees to Him, asking Him to prune and cut away what needed to be changed? What if I saw myself as the truly helpless branch I am,and recognized the beauty of submitting to the Father each day?

What a lovely, strong, fruitful branch I might become. May He grant us grace each day to abide.

What are some ways you can submit your busyness to the Lord and invite Him to make you more productive?

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Catherine Parks

Catherine Parks

During nap times and between loads of laundry at her home in Nashville, TN, Catherine Parks is a writer. At other times of the day you can find her either pretending to be a cheetah wrangler with her two small kiddos, or trying to convince her husband, Erik, to become a coffee drinker. Catherine has a BA in English literature from Bryan College and has finally put the degree to work in A Christ-Centered Wedding.

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