Monday, February 15, 2016

The Vegetable of the Spirit

I don't know how familiar people really are with the term fruit of the Spirit, but I learned about it when I was a young Christian; a high school junior, I think. My Young Life leader went through that passage of Galatians with us in our Campaigners Bible study one Sunday afternoon and even though I didn't completely understand it at the time, it has stuck in my memory. It goes like this:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

The Bible talks a lot about fruit and trees and horticulture in general, really, and it is all very symbolic and beautiful. Fruit is the thing you see that reflects the things you can't see; things like seeds and roots and hearts. Fruit is the ah-ha moment when something that was growing has grown and is now visible and practical and delicious.

There have been several times lately when I have wondered whether anything is really growing in my life. Sometimes a lot of time goes by before anything changes very much and sometimes setbacks or conflicts make me question everything.

Then I started thinking about waiting and the fruit of the spirit. I was having a hard time making the two fit together because waiting is not the same thing as patience. Because patience is a fruit; it's the outcome. Waiting, on the other hand, is the thing you do on your way to the fruit. It's the path of most resistance, if you ask me.

I know from personal experience that waiting produces fruit, but the fruit of waiting is underground. It's underground fruit. So really, it's a vegetable.

Anyone who knows me for very long will, at some point, hear me say that waiting is not a passive thing. What I mean is that the act of waiting is far from doing nothing. Waiting is an action verb. At times it requires an active resistance and always it requires the embracing of the many unexpected things that happen in the meantime. I can look back on my life at the times when I felt like I was the most stuck, and I can see that that those are the times that I was really growing underground. That was the meantime. The place between the already and the not-yet. The in-between preparation and completion.

Not that I have ever been complete, don't get me wrong. I know that fruit is really just a beautiful, delicious seed; the beginning of something greater. What I am trying to say is that waiting is less like an orange and it is more like a turnip or beet. It's a root vegetable.

Whether the fruit of my life is high in the air, swaying in the breeze or incubating in the dirt really isn't the point. The point is that I'm growing. It may sometimes feel like I've got nowhere to go from here but up but maybe, just maybe, that's exactly where I'm supposed to be.
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand... Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you have planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:1-2,5

This post was originally written in 2011 by a younger me. I like her stuff.