Tree Facts - Citrus pickers can only do so much to harvest fruit. Many growers employ large machines that attach themselves to the trunk of the tree and shake the fruit loose. Only the fruit which is ripened enough to fall off is able to be gathered. The small unripe fruit remains on the tree.
Life Principle – Bob Dylan sang, “He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.” What he meant is that if you’ve become overly contented and complacent in life, you’re probably not being productive. Without new challenges to replace accomplishments, life becomes dull and boring.
To grow more fruit, you need to shake down the ripe fruit to make room for the new! Complacency will kill your dreams. It is dangerous not to shake your tree now and then. This means you’re not challenging yourself to climb new heights or stretch in new directions.
While you don’t want to suffer from an “illusion of grandeur,” meaning that your dreams are not at all attached to reality which would make then unrealizable, you also don’t want to be part of the bland status quo, living an unchallenged life.
With nothing to challenge you – no new goals or dreams – it’s easy to simply become more and more complacent. Eventually, nothing around you moves you to care. You can hear about the world’s ills and not be moved to help. You cease to be productive and end up stagnating.
In the book of Revelation, John wrote a warning to the church of Laodicea, stating, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing’” (Revelation 3:15-17, NIV). In other words, the church was resting on its laurels being content with past accomplishments, yet not doing any new ministry work.
For several years I went to Las Vegas quite frequently; sometimes when I was representing the recording artist, Kristine W, who had a regular gig at the Hilton, and other times while filming my Rave America series. It amazed me how many people were literally throwing their money and their lives away. There were rows and rows of people who sat glassy-eyed, week after week, feeding quarters into slot machines. I had to wonder about what they would do if they actually won a jackpot since the only “dream” they had was the winning!
Most probably had no plans to help themselves or others with their winnings. They were simply passing the time and throwing their money away in doing so. Many people pass off gambling as fun entertainment. The games can be exciting and thrilling to watch as wheels spin around and fortunes are lost. But the real loss is not the money of the many patrons, but the loss of the dreams of one’s youth.
Do any of these sounds familiar?
“When I grow up I want to find a cure for cancer.”
“I want to be a fireman to save people.”
“I want to be president of the United States.”
“I want to be a ballet dancer.”
“I want to be …”
Are you today what you wanted to be and thought you would become? What is that derails the dreams of one’s youth and leaves the human soul on the rock pile? Are we given dreams by a loving God just to torture by letting us glimpse a little glory on earth but not equipping us to achieve it?
Found from India to the Philippines, small specimens are grown in greenhouses and sold as houseplants. An evergreen, it is propagated through cuttings.
hat is one of the most fundamental issues each of us has to face. Did God put desires hopes within us that he was unable to complete? The answer simply put is “No.” No! A thousand times no! If God places a dream in your heart, then the means to accomplish it, to shake it into existence, are available to you as well.
God is not a cruel evil being who gains perverse pleasure in seeing his children fail. His concern for you and desire for your success is infinite! If you desire to have children and a family, then God will bring it to pass. Only believe. The question is what do you believe in? Where do you put your faith, hope, and ultimately your actions that will allow you to co-operate with your God-given purpose for existence?
Dr. Mikel Harry one of the founders of the Six Sigma Institute, shared with me a very simple truth. He explained that time, talent and treasure all have to be combined to achieve your goals. The amount of treasure, time, and talent you have is not a material issue. Desire and belief can overcome deficiencies in all these areas.
Life isn’t over at forty or fifty. Life isn’t over if your parents divorced and one moved out. Life isn’t over if you got involved in the wrong crowd and ended up in prison. Life isn’t over if you took a wrong turn in the road. You can turn around and start right from where you are. History is full of examples of those who did. The Bible records some remarkable stories as well. One in particular is commonly known as “Jonah and the Whale.”
God spoke to Jonah, an Israeli prophet, and told him to “Go to Nineveh. Warn them destruction is coming.” God knew his people were involved in sin and at risk of punishment, but he loved them so much that he wanted to give them an opportunity to repent and change.
Jonah, on the other hand, wasn’t keen on giving them a second chance. He wanted them to be punished. So, his response to God was, “No. They are brutal people. I don’t want to go anywhere near Nineveh.” Then he boarded on a ship to go as far away from Nineveh and God as he could.
But you can’t get away from God. Suddenly, a storm developed and the ship was in danger of sinking. Jonah knew in his heart this was God’s doing because of his disobedience. Not wanting to bring harm on the others, he told the captain, “Throw me overboard. I am running from God. If you don’t throw me overboard the entire ship will sink.” So, they tossed him into the sea and were safe.
God cared about Jonah as much as he cared about the people of Nineveh. He prepared a great fish, presumably a whale, that swallowed Jonah whole as soon as he hit the water. For three days and nights, Jonah was in the belly of the fish, alert, alive, and with lots of time to think. Finally, the fish got sick of carrying this indigestible prophet around and puked him up on the beach. A disgusting looking Jonah head straight to Nineveh!
On the very first day Jonah began delivering the message from God to the people of Nineveh, they responded and began repenting; from the least in the land to the king himself. There’s more to the story, and you can read it in the Bible in the book of Jonah. But the point is this: If God will send a fish to rescue a drowning disobedient prophet, then he will send a fish to rescue you and put you where you need to be as well.
The question is who do you want to be and what do you want to be? Your dream will keep you alive, it will sustain you more than a high calorie diet, more than well balanced nutrition, more than regular medical checkups. You can see clearly and far when you are destined for a purpose that carries an eternal agenda and you are on the pathway to fulfilling that purpose. When you are walking your faith and talking your faith, then nothing can kill you. Romans 8:28 promises, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
God made you for a lifetime of purpose. There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God. He doesn’t cast you out and throw you away. Even if you have suffered a debilitating injury and are bed ridden, there is still a purpose for you. If you have grown old and infirm, there is still a purpose for you. You have to give yourself to that purpose. Discipline yourself to fulfill your purpose. Step-by-step, day-by-day a little here and a little there, you will ultimately fulfill your goal and the tree of your life will produce bountiful harvests.
Why does the Bible so often compare people to trees? Because there is an essential commonality: within the heart of each man and woman God sows a seed. It is encoded into us as surely as we are encoded with our father’s genetic code. Our gifts and talents that are the raw material for our success are implanted in us at conception. Our responsibility is simply to nurture it and in so doing discover its secrets. Ignoring the seed within us only causes it to decay.
Our choices will have lasting consequences for ourselves, our families, and the very society we live in. God has equipped the human race for success. “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” God established gifts and abilities in individual humans that have far-reaching implications for the health and safety of all. Neglect them and we are impaired. Employ them and all benefit.
So in closing I ask you. What kind of tree are you? What is going to be your cash crop? When someone shakes you at harvest time what will fall to the earth, dead branches or delicious fruit all can enjoy?
The answer to avoid burnt-out or stagnation is to always set new goals. Aim higher. Seek God with the question, “What’s next?” You may be amazed at all the exciting new dreams he gives you!
Practical Applications & Tips: It’s been said that God allows u-turns. What this means is that, even if you have walked off into the wrong stuff just like the Prodigal Son did, you can come home again. Your Heavenly Father will always be ready, with open and outstretched arms, to welcome you back and build you up. Remember the words of Paul: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39, NIV).
Do you feel like a failure? Like you’ve lost your dream? Like you’re going the wrong direction? If you answered yes, what do you believe you need to do to get back on track? Think about it and pray about it and then write out your answer. Then, find someone who can help you find your way back to the road toward success.
Do you feel like a success? Like you’ve accomplished what you’ve wanted to accomplish? If so, what are you going to do next? Do you have a new goal in mind? Think about it and pray about it and then write out your next step. And then find someone who is struggling, and help them regain their focus.
Additional Reading Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type--Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-careers for the 21st Century by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger (Little, Brown)
How To Find Your Mission In Life by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press).
How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes (McGraw-Hill).
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher (Dell)
Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership by Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion).
The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins (Harvard Business School Press).
The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life by Laurie Beth Jones (Hyperion).
The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer (Collins).
What Color Is Your Parachute 2006: A Practical Manual for Job-hunters And Career-Changers by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press).
What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook: How to Create a Picture of Your Ideal Job or Next Career by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press).