“Fruit always tells,” the author wrote.
It prompted an obvious question, what is the fruit of my life saying?
Sitting with the answers that came to mind, I thought of times in my life when my faith in God wasn’t what I thought it should or could be, or producing what I wanted it to produce. Maybe you’ve wondered the same. Discontentment lingers. Fear still sidles up close. Anger continues to brim at the surface. A lack of lasting joy glares at you. Perfection still calls to you as an expectation. Church is tiring. You look at depth and delight in faith in Scripture and wonder if that’s actually possible.
It most definitely is. But I know what it’s like to feel like the reality is out of reach. So I want to share a few stories of how God burst in on my faltering faith and breathed fresh energy into it.
Maybe your faith isn’t feeding you because you aren’t experiencing the real God, but a God you’ve made.
For example, I don’t know what your parents are/were like. I’ll use John and I as an example. As parents we will do the best we can teach Anna what God is like. She will see Him in our love, discipline, instruction, and protection. But we are flawed, sinful beings, so even our best qualities are but a mere shade of what our perfect God is like. I’ll even say sometimes it’s difficult to separate, let’s say, the nature of our earthly dads from our belief in God. But we must. The Bible is our most reliable source for learning the nature of God. Every word is true, whether we ‘feel’ it or understand it or even believe it. We must allow trust in the Lord to fill every dark, dusty corner of our hearts, and rely not on our own understanding. I have long loved these words from John Piper: “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives.” Is the God you talk to, serve, think about, sing to the God of the Bible or the God of your making?
God the living God is our sufficiency. I have trusted Him for one sovereign; I have trusted him for thousands, and I have never trusted in vain. Blessed is the man who trusts in him.George Müller
Maybe your faith isn’t changing you because you fear everything but God.
A book that altered my course greatly was Ed Welch’s When People Are Big and God is Small. Fearing what others thought of me was a battle I waged long before I knew that was the phrase. Welch writes, “When God and spirituality are reduced to our standards or our feelings, God will never be to us the awesome Holy One of Israel. With God reduced in our eyes, a fear of people will thrive.” Fear blooms when I prioritize my comfort, image, or plans over God. Why? Because I’m asking something that isn’t God to give me what only He can give me. I’m looking for love so I work hard to please people. I’m looking for peace so I weary myself fighting for control of circumstances. I’m looking for self-worth so I strive for good enough in all areas. Wisdom and abundant life come from fearing God (Proverbs 19:23; Psalm 111:10). Fearing God rightly will produce in you a faith that surpasses understanding. It will transform you, and by transforming you, it will most likely change impact those around you in an eternally beautiful way.
Maybe your faith isn’t satisfying you because you aren’t receiving what He’s offering to you but trying to make things happen on your own.
I grew up around the language of receiving Christ as my Savior. My acceptance of the gospel at 9 years old was genuine, but I grew up forgetting that salvation and my life in Him was a gift. Gone was the wonder of grace and in its place was striving, earning and trying to be worthy of His choosing me. This kept me insecure, self-absorbed, anxious and exhausted. It wasn’t until adulthood did I realize how much I valued being ‘enough’ (strong, good, pleasing, capable, etc) over God Himself. It was a painful realization, one with roots almost 20 years old, and it’s been a long journey of surrender, but learning to receive from God has changed my life. Practically, this looks like accepting His word as true for me right now, not a holier version of me; exchanging my doubts and efforts for His power and peace; bringing my emptiness and longings and asking Him to fill them with His presence. The world needs me to be human, filled with the Holy Spirit and directing everybody to the all-sufficient Savior we all need.
If you lose sight of God’s incalculable glory, you will live like a king instead of trusting the King, and you will load kingly burdens on your shoulders. If you lose sight of God’s amazing grace, you will try to produce by human effort what will only ever come by means of divine grace. You will work harder because you will always feel you need to work harder or do better, and you will exhaust yourself in the process. Be honest: does your way of thinking about and living life exhaust you?Paul David Tripp
Maybe your faith isn’t exciting you because you don’t actually believe the Spirit of God lives inside you.
Do you ever stop to really think about that? There could be no greater intimacy with God for us than this. He was given as a gift from our Father, He will never leave us, and He leads us into all truth. William Tyndale wrote, “The Spirit is about drawing us into the divine life.” Are you aware you are part of a Family and Kingdom far more delightful and unshakeable and beautiful than what you experience with your feet planted on earth? 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. And John Calvin challenges us, “We must make the invisible kingdom visible in our midst.” How? By noticing Holy Spirit fruit in those around us, by asking for eyes to see and ears to hear Him in the mundane and mighty moments, by asking for His every purpose to be fulfilled on earth just as it is fulfilled in heaven, by loving the world in the humble and compassionate way of Jesus.
But Holy Spirit’s real work is to bring us to, and keep us in, the sunshine of God’s love. It is there that we will sing heartily; it is there, abiding in Christ, that we will bear fruit. The Spirit shares the triune life of God by bringing God’s children into the mutual delight of the Father and the Son—and there we become like our God: fruitful and life-giving.Michael Reeves
May it be said of our faith, that it not only feeds, changes, satisfies and excites us, but it’s a faith that “considers everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, for whose sake we have lost all things. We consider them garbage, that we may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11)