Not By Will Power

  • Friday, March 5, 2010
  • "Patience"...there it is, just four steps up the staircase, staring us in the face, reminding us of what we, so often, DON'T have and yet promising what COULD be ours. Patience, that virtue which is highly treasured and greatly valued simply because there is so little of it!

    It is a very personal design touch. Obviously, if we ever find ourselves in a circumstance where we must place our home on the market, we will likely need to paint it over. But in a hundred year old house, somehow having the "fruit of the Spirit" painted on the stair-risers seemed an appropriate step. So we tested numerous fonts on the lap-top, repainted the backs of the stairs, then carefully, letter-by-letter, stenciled the names of the nine fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. Needless to say, it was a very long day off.

    But then came the phone call. The very next morning as I was driving south on 70th street on my way to the church office, my cell-phone rang and our home number appeared on the screen. On the other end of the "line" was one very distraught lady. "I thought I would help you out. I knew how tired you were after doing all the painting and lettering yesterday, so I decided to go ahead and put on a coat of polyurethane. But...the letters started to bleed! I don't know what I did wrong, but the letters are smudged. I'm sorry...I was just trying to help."

    When I was able to enter the conversation, being a bit distressed myself now as I drove along wondering when we would repaint, re-stencil, and repair the damages, I inquired as to how far she had gotten with her work. She said, "I started at the bottom and was working my way up. It was working ok until I got to the fourth step. When I started putting it on 'patience' the letters started to bleed."

    If the inner life of the indwelling Spirit of God really works, are there ever situations where it does NOT work? How can we practically live through the enormous range of day-to-day circumstances which shake our composure with little or no warning and believe that in the midst of them the graces of "love, joy, peace and PATIENCE" would be observable realities in our lives? Well the Biblical answers must certainly include these:

    1. If the indwelling Spirit is working in my life, then there can be NO situations where His control does not work.
    2. The secret to displaying these nine fruits of grace can never be produced by the exercise of my will power.  
    These are called the "fruit of the Spirit" simply because they are realities that only He can produce in me!

    Folks, this story is absolutely the truth. It was the sealing of the word "patience" that tried ours! And on more occasions than we care to share, those stenciled reminders of the works of grace which the Spirit desires to do in our lives rise up to both rebuke and reminder us that in any and all circumstances of our day...or even of the weariness of late evenings...that no disciplined exercise of our own will power can produce these fruit in us. They, when they are present, are there because of the work that the indwelling Spirit does through us.

    I wanted to take a good picture of our stairs this morning to attach to this "faithnotes" so as to help you see more clearly what I was trying to explain. But I had to resort to this blurry version taken by my Smart-Phone. You see, just a couple of days ago, in her enthusiasm to capture yet another spontaneous family event, five-year-old Chloe dropped her Nana's digital camera. And the telescoping lens no longer will. In fact, not one thing for which this instrument was created can any longer be done by it. Broken. Ruined. Bent irreparably. Instantly transformed from a valued tool to a useless toy-box resident.

    Did I mention the fruit of the Spirit? Did I breathe anything about the fourth word? Has anyone seen my patience around here lately?


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