Many of you know our story and have prayed with us from the beginning, when Ian had his first brain bleed as a toddler. Others of you picked up our story later after a brain surgery or a public plea for more prayer. After twenty plus years and multiple crisis, I’ve gotten used to it. Inevitably when I’m in the deepest darkest valley, I’ll run into someone, a thoughtful friend even, and she’ll say something incredibly insensitive— even if it’s true. Or other times a friend will say nothing. I know she knows. And she knows that I know that she knows… and we just smile at each other awkwardly while ignoring the elephant in the room.
Has either scenario ever happened to you? Or have you been the friend? You want to say or do something, but the wrong thing could make things worse. Or you bravely say something and regret it the moment it comes out of your mouth.
I’ve learned to extend grace to both the tongue tied Teresa and the pat-answer Paula. Because I’ve been both of them. As a pastors wife, with the extra weight of expectation, I’ve had lots of practice at putting my foot in my mouth or staying silent when I should speak. I get it. My intentions are a ten, my execution a one.
NO ONE can argue that we’re living in very unique times. It’s my first pandemic, how about you? And then add to that the racial outrage incited by the horrific killing of George Floyd. Many of us are just now beginning to get out and about with our masks on. It’s no wonder we’re not as sure footed as we were four months ago. For me, I’ve noticed in June as compared to March even, I’m slower and more thoughtful, less reactive and more intentional.
As I’ve been praying about my slowness and what feels like insecurity, and asking what I should do or not do, or what I should say or not say, the Lord has weighed in. Instead of receiving clear direction, I’ve felt even more hand cuffed. Almost as if He is cautioning me… cool your jets, be patient, I am at work.
Jesus’ disciples experienced this too.
John 16:12,13a 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
In this passage, Jesus is speaking to His disciples while still living life among them. To paraphrase Jesus says… “right now… you can’t handle the truth.” And because of that, He promises the spirit of truth that will come and guide them into all truth.
For some reason, the disciples weren’t ready. And similarly I sense the Lord reigning me in. Don’t go, don’t do, don’t say. That is a challenge for me, especially given my nature as an extroverted control freak.
If Jesus is the light at the end of the tunnel, the Holy Spirit is our light while in the tunnel. And I’m resisting the temptation to run ahead of Him.
One size does NOT fit all
One of my favorite characteristics about the Holy Spirit is that He is NOT one size fits all. While the Holy Spirit is putting a lid on my unbridled enthusiasm, He may be kicking you in the pants. The point is… are you following His lead?
Notice the fruit
Maybe you’re thinking… Heck, I don’t know. I think so. I hope so. If you want to see the evidence of His work in your life, notice the fruit growing on your tree.
Galatians 5:22,23. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In last week’s article I focused on love, the Spirit’s first gift, and the observation that our world desperately needs it. This week, the Lord has directed me to the final crucial gift, self-control. A gift also obviously lacking today.
Self-control is just like it sounds. Control over self. For Christians, self-control is not merely about restraint. Self control harnesses discipline to resist the temptation to disobey God. This includes losing our temper and reacting to others without demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit in our thoughts and actions. It includes stepping out in front of the Holy Spirit assuming we can handle things.
Where does self-control fit in? Everywhere.
It takes self-control to show godly LOVE —to love others not as the world loves, but as Christ loved us. (1 John 4:19) Ann Lamott says…Love is seeing the darkness in another and defying the impulse to jump ship.
It takes self-control to have godly JOY when you’re in the dark tunnel. “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
It takes self-control to be at PEACE with all those facebook friends that make you want to scream. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9)
It takes self-control to have PATIENCE and bear with others rather than quickly condemning them. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
It takes self-control to not be selfish, but with KINDNESS, consider others before yourself. (Philippians 2:4)
It takes self-control to choose GOODNESS. It’s not easy or popular, to choose the narrow gate that leads to life rather than the wide gate that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14)
It takes self-control to hold onto FAITHFULNESS when life makes no sense. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
It takes self-control to serve with GENTLENESS, showing compassion and mercy and grace as God does with us. (2 Timothy 2:24)
Self-Control must co-exist
The way I see it, without self control, self is NOT controlled and all bets are off. In other words, for any ONE of the fruits of the spirit to grow on your tree, self control must be growing too.
Perhaps that explains the Holy Spirits deliberate pause with me.
Come Holy Spirit. I am living in a tunnel and I desperately need your light to shine the way. I’ve done this Christian thing a long time and it’s easy to think and act as if I’ve got this. How foolish. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for dwelling in me. My self gets in the way causing me to lose my way. Holy Spirit help me exhibit self-control and yield my will, to follow yours. It’s my desire to have a fruitful tree. Amen.
GodsGotThis, Debbie Hucke