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When I was very young my thoughts would often drift to when I was a grown up. I knew what kind of car I would have. I knew what kind of house I would have and how much it would cost. I knew what job I would have and how much money I would make. I had life all planned out. Then reality hit. Some of the things I dreamed of actually came true in general terms, yet there were many ideas I had that were totally ridiculous.

As we grow older we find out that the dreams and aspirations we have rarely come to fruition. Even those that do come true don’t always hold the same level of satisfaction we’d hoped for. As someone once said, when you think about it, the ‘Good Old Days’ weren’t really all that good, and the things we dreamed of happening didn’t fulfill that desire either. King Solomon, often referred to as the wisest and richest man in history put it this way (my paraphrase), “I can have anything I want. I spared myself nothing in order to find happiness. And I found out nothing was worth it.”

Yet we still seek the fulfillment that comes from things. A good family, a secure job, a healthy retirement account, good, responsible kids and perfect grandkids. Those things are good of course. Nothing wrong with having those dreams. But even if we could attain all that, when we die it’s all gone.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that while all those physical things we hope for can’t bring happiness, even if they do come true, there’s one thing that can guarantee contentment and that is all summed up in one word—devotion.

We are devoted to the things that matter most to us. When our devotion is based on the physical we risk disappointment (as Solomon found out) but when our devotion is based on something bigger than that we can bask in the fruit of contentment.

Jesus of Nazareth talked about that. He pointed out the futility of mankind’s desire to build houses, plant fields and prepare for a comfortable life. When you build on those things, the storms of life (broken marriages, failed retirement accounts, failing health, the inevitability of old age and death) end up destroying the dream.

How do we move past that? Devotion to something eternal. Jesus calls it abiding in John 15.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain (abide) in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When we are a branch attached to the vine we can count on bearing fruit. Fruit that lasts. Fruit that comes naturally when we rely on the vine. The Apostle Paul describes the fruit in Galatians chapter five.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Now that’s the kind of fruit I want others to see hanging from my branch, don’t you? Don’t spend your life toiling for things you have no guarantee will happen and which will eventually go away. Practice the gift of abiding. Make time to open your heart and mind to God through His word. Practice listening to Him through prayer. Overcome the distractions that will keep you from the fruit he wants to give us freely through His son Jesus and the power of Holy Spirit. Unlike all the good things this world can offer, His is a fruit that lasts.

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February 2023
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