So this morning during my prayer time I came to Galatians, chapter 5, and specifically verses 19 through 23:
“19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
I’m starting to read this, and I’m feeling pretty good. I mean, I’m true to my wife, and idolatry and sorcery aren’t much of a problem. Then I come to “hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy…”, and I hear God talking to me. I remember more than one incident in just the last couple weeks in which I was angry and arguing. You would think at my age I would have learned to just say “Ok Lord, I hear you”, but no I decided to start “quarreling” right away.
“Now come on God, you can’t bring those times up,” I said. “I was seriously provoked in that situation. Anyone would have gotten mad. And if I don’t get mad, nothing would have gotten done and nothing would change. I get walked on if I don’t get upset. How do you expect me to react when someone says those things to me? They just won’t listen to anything I say, and I mean anything!”
Well God doesn’t really do well at this “quarreling” thing. I don’t hear a thing. Not a word. Got him! Go back to reading.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
So much for “Got him” and the whole “not a word” thing. But being a stubborn American I’m not done yet.
“Wait a minute Pops.” It’s getting personal now so formalities go out the window. “Do you really expect me to always react with your goodie-goodie list? I mean that’s just not real life.”
This time, He wasn’t so silent. I mean I didn’t hear any words, but I saw this movie full of memories running through my mind. Now I know I shouldn’t be so bold as to put words into God’s mouth, but it’s the only way I know to translate what He was teaching me, so here goes.
“Not always Dan, only when someone you’ve totally loved betrays you, and turns you over to people who hate you. Then you react with ‘love, joy. peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’. When they lie about you, and mock you, and spit in your face…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…. When they beat you, and hurt you, and take everything you have in this world…..love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…. When they finally nail you to that cross you’ve been carrying…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness….”
Wow. Even I can shut-up after that… for a few minutes. I finally lift my head (it had been hanging in shame) because there was a question in my mind. “But God, I would have sworn you said ‘Not always.’ When do I not have to try to react with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”?
“When you die.” And I knew he wasn’t talking about the end of this over-weight, slowing down, grey-haired shell I walk around in.
Then I shut-up.
BTW: Learning from God, is winning.