As I drove home a few days ago, I passed by a sign I’ve driven past hundreds of times before. It sits outside a scarcely frequented family owned produce shack near our house. I used to marvel at the consistency, dependability and patience of the older gentleman that would sit in his lawn chair day after day, all day long – just waiting for the few customers that would occasionally stop by to purchase some of his harvest. As I rushed about this city, dragging kids from school to events, sports practice and music lessons, and lugging pound upon pound of groceries home each week, I would drive by that fruit and vege stand and enviously wonder if I would ever have time to sit and relax like that sweet old man. I was also a bit curious . . . was it really worth it, profitable I mean, to sit outside in the heat and humidity, day after day, for hours on end? It didn’t seem like the best use of time, or the most profitable thing this gentleman could have done with the remaining hours he had in his life. Surely there was some other way he could make money or use his time more efficiently.
But the other day, as I drove by this familiar spot, I felt a nudge to do a double take and really read the sign. “Fresh Produce . . . Now Open”. This past year, or maybe a bit longer, the older gentleman hasn’t been outside. In fact, there hasn’t even been any produce at the stand. I’ve been curious as to what happened. Did he realize that it wasn’t worth his time and money? Or did something happen to that persistent elderly gentleman? Was it that hardly anyone was stopping by anymore – not needing or wanting some delicious homegrown organic fruits and vegetables? (I know I just picked mine up at the grocery store as that was easier and more convenient.) And yet, the sign still stood, announcing they had “Fresh Produce”.
As I looked at the sign with fresh eyes that day, I felt Holy Spirit gently saying to me – “Fresh Produce . . . Now Open”. I could feel Him wooing me – reminding me that, like the steady, unwavering older gentleman, He was still waiting – day after day, all hours of the day and night, for me to come and visit – to stop by for some produce. But not just to get the produce, but to take time to sit and relax, to chat about the day, about my life, my feelings, and to find out more about Him. Unlike the sweet old man, He would never leave His post at this “produce stand”. He is always there . . . here . . . waiting. And He will always have an infinite supply of produce . . . Fruit to be specific.
I love the “fruit” that Holy Spirit has to offer me. . . .that He has to offer you . . .to everyone! Love . . . Joy . . . Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and yes . . . Self-Control. Don’t those all sound heavenly?! Don’t you just crave to take home a bundle of Love? How about a bushel of Peace? An overflowing basketful of Joy? I can just smell their sweet aroma and taste their delectable wholesomeness right now! I know we have all asked for Patience, Peace and Joy in our lives from time to time, but what about the last one . . . Self-Control? Do many people want that one or look over it with envious, craving eyes as they do with some of the other fruits? It just doesn’t sound as sweet and juicy and wonderful as the other fruits. But let me tell you – it really is!
Each and every one of these nine heaven-grown fruits is a “must have”, and Self-Control is no exception. They are all a part of God’s divine plan, purposes and promises to create healthy, whole and loving relationships. And that’s what God is all about . . . Relationship! All nine of them are needed in our relationships with our kids, our spouses, family members, friends, neighbors, at our jobs and even with the grumpy woman at the grocery store. We know we need these fruits, but keeping them in “our house” seems tricky. I know I keep running out of Patience (sometimes on a daily basis) . . . and Joy can be fleeting (especially depending on what time of the month it is!). So, how can I keep my “house” filled up with this satisfying and healthy fruit each and every day?
Galatians 5:22-25 says “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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
“Fresh Produce . . . Now Open” the sign still reads. Are you willing to stop by? Are there some fruits you need in your life? What you may not see is the “Vacancy” sign next to the other sign. Yes – the Lord is calling you, offering you a place to reside – a chance to “live BY the Spirit”. He doesn’t just want you to stop by – He wants you to live here – right beside Him – each and every day. Can you see how beneficial it would be – to be able to keep your supply of fresh fruit at your house full to capacity – each and every day – because you live RIGHT BY the fruit stand?! He doesn’t want us to just live there though – He wants us to sit and chat, walk and talk, “keep in step” with Him – every day. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to move in next door? Or are you still only comfortable with just stopping by when you have a free moment? Are you willing to spend time with Him daily – keeping “in step with the Spirit”?
The Holy Spirit is waiting. He has plenty of produce for everyone! But not everyone is going to stop by. It breaks my heart – just as it broke my heart to see that old man sitting in his chair . . . day after day . . . hour after hour . . . waiting patiently for someone to stop by and enjoy the delicious food he had tenderly and loving planted, grown, and harvested just for them. Even if people do stop by – many will not stay . . . many will not move in next door and spend time with Holy Spirit. That puts another ache in my heart as well. There is so much more to this life – so much more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to fill our lives and enjoy . . . if only we will reside/live “by the spirit” and “keep in step” with Him. Are you up to it?
This Gentleman will be at his “stand” waiting . . . . . And yes . . . He does think this is the most profitable thing He could ever do! Even if only one person decided to come by . . . it would be worth it!! So on He waits . . . .
. . . .for you!
I hope you can stop by!
Taste and enjoy the Fruit!