I lay on my bed in Schreiber Lodge (at the church prayer retreat) and gazed out the window as the dawn lit the sky. All I could see were the silhouetted branches of tall trees intertwined and enmeshed in each other. As I continued to look, the trees began to sway gently. What force was strong enough to move those massive trunks?
John 3:8 describes the wind. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound (or see the signs of it) but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
I have been born of the Holy Spirit. So what are the sounds, effects and signs of the him in my life? Can someone watching me hear his voice? See his signs? His fruit?
“Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” For me, this means things like fantasizing about someone other than my husband, putting my children in place of God, desperately wanting my girlfriend’s spiritual gift, wishing ill of an abusive man, seeking recognition for my talents, drinking too much of that fine wine, and creating division by hanging out with only those people I like (Galatians 5:16–23).
In contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Keep in step with the Spirit, sow to please the Spirit (Galatians 6:7–8), do not quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19) are all actions of my will that I can choose to put into practice.
I headed off to breakfast. As I reached for a banana, I wondered why these qualities are called fruit? Maybe because fruit is sweet, it tastes good, it is a direct result of the DNA in the seed, it depends on good soil and growing conditions and it takes time—sometimes a long time—to grow. To keep to the analogy, I must stay close to my source—the Spirit—in order to bear his fruit. I must let him make me into his image so that my fruit will look like his fruit. I must create good soil in which the fruit can grow and thrive. And I must be patient to let the fruit grow.
Back in my private room, I decided to do some cultivating of joy and peace. I spent time with the Spirit and in his presence, I chose to rejoice even though my phone was dead, the fridge leaked, there was little interest in the house, the weather was still cold and dreary, our final service at our beloved church was at hand and my future was uncertain. I was at peace because my God is in control.
Though [joy and peace] are intangible, their company is quite beneficial. They can relieve the thirst of our soul. Joy is radiantly lovely. Her contagious laugher lifts you up and lightens your mood. Peace is quieter than joy but equally attractive. Her serenity calms you as you feel fully understood yet totally accepted. The longer you walk with these lovely companions, the better your awareness of Me – the One who ultimately satisfies your soul thirst.Sarah Young (Dear Jesus)
How about you? What wind of the Spirit can others see in you today?
How can you cultivate the fruit that is lacking?