Continuing our discussion on Spiritual Fruit, let's talk fruit. Last summer one of our sons was on a mission to try ALL the various fruit options in our local grocery store. We ate carambola (star fruit), mangos, persimmons, dragon fruit, etc. Like many people, we tend to eat the same three or four fruit varieties, so this was a great experiment for our family. Some of the varieties were pretty good, others would take a little getting used to, but there was one that was a "no-go," Jack Fruit. I don't know if we did not buy a good one, did not prepare it correctly, or we just do not have the acquired taste for this odd creation.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. James 5:7 NKJV
Many people have a love-hate relationship with this "piece" of the Spiritual Fruit, patience or long suffering. "Don't pray for patience or God will give you someway to practice it." I think there are people who are more naturally gifted in patience, slower to anger, creative in handling difficult situations, and then there are those who struggle with it ... well, you probably know a few people who you would consider short-tempered or impatient.
Proverbs 25:15 NIV: Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
In my opinion, one of the best examples of patience comes in Exodus. Yahweh has delivered the Israelites from slavery, but while Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites make the Gold Calf. The Lord responded to their rebellion.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but You have not let me know whom You will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that this nation is Your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:1-2, 12-17 NIV
Our LORD's patience provides us with second, third... 999 googolplexian (that is the largest number by name) chances. Moses used a "gentle tongue" with his argument, although our LORD could have done anything He wanted, He had made promises and Moses persuaded God with convincing wisdom. Pretty good for a guy who "never been eloquent...slow of speech and tongue." How many of us would be as patient, especially while knowing these people were going to break His heart again, and again, through out history. Why is our Father so patient with us?
Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV
The answer is love. Because He so loves us, He does not want to live without us, so He exercises patience, forgiveness, long-suffering, wanting none to perish .
It was not until I became a mother that I could understood a small portion of God's love for us. Our children have a special place in our hearts. Although we get frustrated, aggravated and even angry, the depth of our love allows us to forgive transgressions and provide googolplexian chances. My sons often laugh at me because after a day or two I would forget they were grounded or on restriction. I think long-suffering is a great definition of patience. Even when our children break our hearts, we continue to walk alongside them, just as Adonai does for us.
As a matter of routine, our Petra prayer devotes a week to each of the spiritual "fruit." Living in a home full of competitive, testosterone-filled men, I have ample opportunity to practice patience. On occasion tempers flare, so when things get hot, I begin to pray. One week as we prayed patience for our families, two of my men were in a serious discussion where tones were quickly escalating. As I began to pray, something unusual happened. Both parties stopped, stood there in silence for about 10 seconds, just looking at each other. The older calmly responded to the younger. The younger acknowledged the comment and walked off. Discussion over.
It was difficult to contain myself! I wanted to jump up and down, shouting "Hallelujah!" but manage to keep my cool. I promptly said a little prayer of praise, "I saw it LORD! I saw the patience! Thank you for your faithfulness!" The pause, the reset. PATIENCE! It may have only lasted 10 seconds, but it was proof of fruitfulness. My babies became boys, boys grow to be men, and these mature men are learning to discuss and work things out. Praise the God of all patience.
We haven't tried Jack fruit since last summer, but maybe we should. I appreciate when I get a second chances...Maybe next summer.
AMAZING, Omnipotent God. For this reason, since the day we learned we were expecting a child, we have not stopped praying for them. We continually ask you, O God, to fill our children (and ourselves) with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that we may live a life worthy of Your Name and to please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in our knowledge of You, our God, being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified each of us to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the Kingdom of Light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)