Posted by: William | April 26, 2008

My Fickle Fruits of the Spirit

Between my house and my church stands one access road that is only one lane the whole way. At no point does the law provide any opportunities to pass, so if you get stuck behind some out-of-towner, you’re going to be going 30 miles an hour for about 20 minutes. It’s unbelievably annoying and frankly, among the few times in my car that I drive as annoyed as I feel.

Well, on one particular occasion I was driving to the evening church service with a friend, when just such an annoying driver pulled out in front of me at the last second. Besides having to slow down quickly, the prospect of driving so slowly the whole way weighed down on me and I voiced my frustration. My friend had some interesting thoughts to share. She reminded me of the fruits of the Spirit. But here’s the thing, my sad confession, I don’t think I’ve ever given much honest ear to the fruits of the Spirit. Then again, I don’t give much honest ear to anything that’s reproduced millions of times on a novelty gift plaque. Well, incidentally, this also happens to be the word of God and so at once I needed to consider it.

So what are the fruits of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There it is, patience, staring me in the face.

So that’s stuck with me ever since. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and when I act impatiently, I’m acting out of “step” with the Spirit and eventually will find myself in some manner of trouble.

So, yesterday I had a small bit of traveling to do. I had a job about 40 miles away on the other side of the city and it just so happed to be taking place right at the end of rush hour. So I left my house about two hours early with the intention of just finding a coffee shop to sit and read it until my job started. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so smoothly. My trip around the Beltway was easy enough, but once I headed into Virginia a poorly marked set of interchanges threw me off course by about 15 miles. When I finally discovered the problem, I was annoyed, but like a boy scout, I pulled out my maps and found a shortcut ultimately losing me almost no time at all.

The job went well, the couple and their children were delightful to work with and I got paid on the spot, which was another pleasant surprise. Leaving the job, I felt confident in my trip home because of my loss of direction the first time and my original need to orient myself to my surroundings. Things didn’t go well.

A series of three incorrectly marked exits put me onto rout 66, which apparently doesn’t believe in giving drivers any kind of opportunity to turn around. Again, I ended up roughly eight miles off course and unable to turn around. Eventually, an exit ramp presented itself. I took the exit, which ended up being a bad move. I got to the end of the off ramp and drove into a labyrinth of wrongly or completely unmarked roads. I drove back and forth looking for a way back onto the highway for about 10 minutes, which eventually erupted into my verbally abusing the proverbial road designer who wasn’t actually in my car to take my insults. Eventually, I found my way back onto the highway, inconspicuously about two miles away through a maze of roads.

From there, I finally did end up back on the Beltway where I didn’t encounter any more hang-ups, aside from the condition of my own bitter heart.

When I got home, the fruits of the Spirit came to my mind. I had effectively pushed them out during my drive. For about two hours in my car, I had a completely unbroken record of exhibiting not a single one of the fruits of the Spirit. What a terrible place to be. How awfully discontent I was. It’s times like that where I’d like to find myself clinging to the Spirit, and even in the midst of raw frustration, still somehow manage to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.

I’ll keep working on that and surely Jesus will keep sanctifying me.

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