Two years ago, God called my husband and I to take a year off work to spend time seeking Him.
We had just completed our sixth year of work. So I quit my job while my husband took no pay leave. And from May 2015 to May 2016, we attended a discipleship course in church, volunteered our time at various church ministries, and visited different individuals. It was a full 12 months of doing things for God, which many people would probably consider a “fruitful” and “meaningful” use of time.
Fast forward to 12 months later. My husband went back to secular work as called by the Lord. I, on the other hand, didn’t feel God prompting me to go back to full-time secular work, so I embarked on what many people would call a very “different” journey. I know some would view how I spent my past year as a “waste of time”, but, as I’ve learned over the year, the definition of “fruitfulness” differs for everyone.
You see, over the past 11 months, I have been working part-time in an administrative role. And because I am working part-time, my monthly salary is a fraction of what I used to earn.
On top of that, I no longer qualify for employee benefits like allowances, annual leave, and medical leave. Things that I could once easily afford are now luxury items that I need to carefully consider whether to purchase. So why did I choose this path? you might ask.
I’ve asked myself the same question. Why did I leave a full-time job to take on something part-time which does not pay me enough to feed myself? (Note: my husband has been supporting me by co-paying for my expenses.)
Truth be told, I felt rather aimless the first few weeks. Apart from working three half-days per week, I stayed at home and did some household chores. With so much time on my hands, I started to do what I enjoyed doing: I read the Bible and played worship songs on the guitar and the keyboard.
The thing is, I don’t have much training in music. So, in the beginning, I struggled to figure out the chords, play them according to the timing, and sing at the same time. After some months, however, I realized that my fingers were moving pretty much on their own without me having to try to follow the score or timing. They were moving to random melodies—which, surprisingly, actually made musical sense to my ears. That triggered my interest in writing simple worship songs for the Lord.
It wasn’t always smooth-sailing, of course. But on occasions when the melodies just flowed, I felt as though I was directly downloading the tunes from God. Once, as I played one of the tunes and sang the lyrics that God gave me, I felt myself being ministered to by the Lord himself; tears kept rolling down my cheeks and I just couldn’t stop.
In that song, I was reminded of the truth that no one compares to God, for He is God most high: He is our God, our Lord, our strength, and our King. He is sovereign and is worthy of our worship. And there is nowhere else we would rather be than to be in the presence of His Glory.
At that moment, I realized that perhaps this was exactly what God was calling me to do: to take time to worship Him. And though it may not seem that big of a deal to others, I knew it was a fruitful use of my time.
In all honesty, I wished I had more “song downloads” from God over the past few months. At the same time, I am reminded of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Both the servant who was given five talents and came back with another five, and the servant who was given two talents and came back with another two, received the same response from their Master, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)
Through these 11 months, I’ve come to realize in a very personal way that fruitfulness is not always measured by what we reap materially. It does not mean making the most money. It does not mean gaining the best reputation. It does not mean gaining power in the corporate world or climbing the corporate ladder. It does not mean being fashionable or always having new clothes and accessories to wear and gadgets to hold. It does not mean eating at the best restaurants or knowing when or where the next Michelin Star restaurant is opening at.
Fruitfulness is doing what God wants you to do. And it’s not even about quantity or quality—it’s about our heart. (Matthew 5:8)
It’s hard being the oddball. It’s hard having no full-time job. It’s hard earning so little. It’s hard saying no to friends and sometimes even family. It’s hard not following common paths. It’s hard resisting the world. But it’s even harder to live a life without God. (Matthew 7:13-14)
My dear friends, I may not know you personally or know what you’re going through right now. But I do know that God has a perfect plan for you to be abundantly fruitful, according to His ways and His will.