I used to have such a wrong idea about the Fruit of the Spirit. I’d read the verses in Galatians like a laundry list of so many things I couldn’t do enough, be enough. I would either flip to another book of the Bible, or vow to work on being more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, etc. But the next day, I wouldn’t even be able to list all nine.
This post is the fourth in a series on walking with God instead of pursuing idolatry. You’ll find the previous one here.
“Lord, give me patience!”
Ever pray this prayer? I have. Many times.
But as I’ve studied Galatians, I realize it’s not a gift God gives us, like good health or children or friends. Patience is another product of walking with God, just like we’ve talked about in previous posts with joy, peace, and love.
If you’re like me, there are certain situations where impatience reigns, even on the best of days. My two big ones are reckless drivers and computers that don’t do what I want them to do. (There are others, of course, but these two get me every time.)
In the case of reckless drivers, I think fear drives my impatience the most. If another driver cuts me off, my fight or flight instinct kicks in. Danger! Wreck about to happen! But even moments after the incident, when I realize I’m safe, I’m still thinking, “How dare they risk hurting or killing everyone on this road like that?”
As for my computer, the root of my irritation comes from the inability to meet a deadline or complete a task I want to do. I fume. “My accomplishments and achievements are on the line, you rusty bucket of capacitors and diodes!”
In both cases, I’ve stopped trusting. Sure, reckless drivers and uncooperative computers aren’t trustworthy, but God is.
I can trust God to keep me safe (or get me through whatever injury happens if my loved ones and I are in an accident).
I can trust God to achieve His purpose in whatever I do accomplish, regardless of whatever technical difficulties I have.
But when I choose not to trust that, frustration ensues.
These aren’t moments where I lose my patience. They’re moments that expose what sort of fruit I bear. Fruit of idolatry rather than Fruit of the Spirit.
In both cases, I’ve misplaced my trust. Instead of putting my faith in God and His goodness, I’ve put it in me and my own abilities. Whenever I stack up God’s abilities and mine, I fall ridiculously—infinitely—short.
When I’m aware of God’s presence and active participation in my day, I’m astounded that the Creator of the universe (vast as it is) also knows every intimate detail of my heart—each need, emotion, passion, and motive. Not only that, but He’s inviting me (and you) to walk with Him so we can know Him more too.
It’s impossible to sit in that state of blown mind and at the same time be frustrated about mundane details. Because the bigger God is in my awareness, the smaller my problems are. When He’s farther away in my consciousness, the smaller He appears, and the more likely I am to feel compelled to take matters into my own hands.
It’s easy to trust an omnipotent God. As long as we’re walking with the Spirit, we remember how big and powerful He is. How capable He is of giving us what we need, and knowing when we need it. How thankful we are for His presence.
The times it’s not easy to trust, when our impatience shows—that’s when we’ve wandered away from where the Holy Spirit is walking.
And still, He beckons us to draw near. He loves us that much.
As Paul prayed for the people at Colossus, so I’m praying for us:
“That [we’d] walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:10-12, emphasis mine).
Notice the connection between gratitude and patience? It’s impossible to be impatient and grateful at the same time. Our awareness of God’s presence automatically invokes thankfulness, because we remember who He is and what He’s done for us.
Lately my silent rants at other drivers has turned into gratitude for keeping me safe in the moment. My not-so-silent rants about my computer are turning into gratitude for the blessings and gifts God’s given me. The act of writing turns to worship instead of some grand thing I’m doing for God when I remember He’s right here with me.
Slowly, step by step, God keeps showing me ways to respond in love. You could even say that He’s patiently growing patience in me.
And next time you get impatient with yourself for not being patient enough? Be comforted, because reconnection with God is only one thought away. We don’t have to waste another minute chastising ourselves for not being patient when we can instantly call on His power and thank Him for still being there. We can walk confidently, trusting that He’s given us everything we need for the moment.
Small problems. Big God. No contest.
Be blessed, friends. And thanks for patiently wading through this post 😉 I’d love it if you left me a note in the comments!
Want to read the rest of the posts in the Fruit of the Spirit series?