Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so?
Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes
Every year during the summer months, I look forward to once-a-year fruits like peaches, nectarines, and cantaloupes. There’s nothing quite like the soft, sweet taste of a summer peach or the toothsome flavor of a ripe melon. While it’s possible to get berries, apples, and bananas year-round, you know it’s truly summer when you’re savoring a perfect peach.
So, how might we live more fruitful lives? Fruitful as in generative, productive, and useful. Fruitful as in growing, abundant, lively. Fruitful as in reproducing whatever is good, vital, and blessed in my own life in the lives of others. Fruitful as in healthy but not perfect, improving but not flawless, vibrant but not inhuman. Fruitful.
Unlike summer fruit, which has a rather short growing season, I invite us to consider fruitfulness as a year-round pursuit. Rather than waiting until my family schedule is simpler, I choose to pursue fruit-bearing in the complicated now. Rather than waiting until I compose some comprehensive master plan of life, I choose to pursue fruit-bearing in the ambiguous now. Rather than waiting for some perfect set of ideal conditions to present themselves, I choose to pursue fruit-bearing in the imperfect now. Rather than dying with my music in me, I choose to sing my tune, however warbled, now.
Ben Irwin quipped that “Most of us spend our lives as if we had another one in the bank.” As Christians, we can legitimately argue that we do have another life to live. But Irwin’s point remains valid. In this life, in this age, in this world, within these families, within the circumstances, we have opportunities to be fruitful or not. To share blessing or not. To love other or not. To serve the least of these or not. To bear witness or not. And, we will not regain these specific opportunities again, not even in heaven.
When Christian philosopher and author Dallas Willard was still living, I had the opportunity to visit with him during a class he was teaching. I asked, “How can I finish well as a minister and as a Christian?” Willard shared about staying connected to Christ and bearing fruit. Speaking of himself, he said he wanted the words of Psalm 92:14 to be true of him: “In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap…” Wise words indeed!