“. . . go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” – John 15:16
Viktor Frankl, the renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor believed that people are primarily driven by a “striving to find meaning in one’s life”. In response to that yearning we all seem to have, he wrote in his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, “We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
True to Frankl’s belief I found myself at one point a number of years ago frantically searching for that unique, singular meaning for my own life, trying to articulate it in the form of a mission statement (which I still contend to be a noble if not challenging exercise). Then one day while reading John’s Gospel there it was. “You did not choose me,” Jesus said, “but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” What I had been struggling over for months had been written down – for me – centuries ago, my personal mission statement, “go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”.
At first I was tripped up by my newly discovered mission. I had hoped for something more specific, even fanticized about something heroic. Bearing fruit simply seemed too general, and doesn’t it apply to everyone, not just me? Of course it does. But it also means something uniquely different for each of us. My circumstances are unique to yours, as are yours to mine, and my daily encounters are unique to yours, as are yours to mine. Frankl expressed it so well, “Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
“He has showed you, O man, what is good,” reported the prophet Micah. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). That’s living a meaningful life, that bears fruit that will last.