Over the past few months I’ve found myself waffling back and forth between adrenaline-fuelled panic and overwhelming despair and apathy. The pandemic brought up many internal anxieties I thought I had dealt with in the past. But, as it turns out, they were just buried.
I spent the first couple weeks of March in a daze. Every day I went through the motions of regular life but felt distant from myself. I didn’t engage with much of anything and I kept fighting the feeling like what was happening wasn’t real.
After the initial shock of our entire world changing, maybe forever, I determined to stay strong. I focused on gritting my teeth, pushing through, and toughing it out. But, of course once the adrenaline wore off I noticed how human my response was. Rather than reaching out to God in prayer and through reading the Bible I defaulted to relying on my own strength to get through each day.
Now, while I’m sure my actions and/or reactions were quite normal, it also showed me where I have room to grow in my relationship with the Lord. In the upheaval, I allowed my fear and uncertainty to take over and rule my emotions. Now I must learn how to demonstrate trust in God’s provision through every situation.
This emotional roller coaster has reminded me of how important the Fruit of the Spirit is in times like these. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. These are developed as a result of a close relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit working from the inside out.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5:22–23 MSG)
I love the question posed in this translation, but what happens when we live God’s way?
It’s so straightforward. But as I consider it in light of the pandemic and subsequent global issues I’m thinking...maybe not so simple.
What happens when we live God’s way?
In good times, spiritual fruits like affection for others, exuberance about life, and serenity are perhaps a little easier to come by. We’re happier and therefore demonstrate love for others and feel both calm and excited about the future. However, when times aren’t so good, our natural response is to look for ways to protect ourselves. We look inward and stop noticing others. We feel fear so we stop looking forward to the future. And serenity? Not as easy to be at peace when the world turns upside down.
But despite it all, the question still gnaws at my mind: what happens when we live God’s way?
When we live God’s way, we experience the Fruit of the Spirit in good times and bad. Because it’s a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, this fruit is not tied to things of the world, emotions, health, or anything else. It’s beyond our human comprehension and allows us to see past our current situation, hurts, habits, frustrations, and any other distraction.
Again, the Message paraphrase puts it so well. “We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.”
I think back to the Spring and wonder how different things would have been if I had had the presence of mind to rest in God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to further develop His fruit in me rather than digging in and trying to be strong. My way was so exhausting. As I read these beautiful verses from the Apostle Paul, I’m struck with how much better living God’s way is. It’s so obvious looking back, so how do I make this lesson stick moving forward?
Here’s my plan to keep my heart and mind focused on God so I won’t be so caught off guard in the future and revert to my old, human responses.
- Make Bible reading and prayer a daily habit
- Carve quiet moments into my day and ask the Lord what He wants to show me
- Write my thoughts down and be open to inner promptings
- If my mind begins spinning, use that as a signal to slow down and give my cares to God
I’m grateful to be shown this weakness. Because now that it has been brought to light I am able to recognize it and work—with God’s help—towards change and transformation.