Pastor’s ponderings

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a small retreat for the leadership of a group that I am a part of. To start that time together, we listened as one of the retreat leaders led us in a devotional about the fruits of the Spirit, as they are listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control” (NRSV).  They then invited us to pray about which of these we need God’s help with the most and write them down on a piece of paper.  I prayed and found myself writing “patience.”  I’m not sure why I did, for I’ve typically been a pretty patient person.  Yet, that is what I wrote.  After doing so, another individual made the remark, “For all of you that wrote down ‘patience,’ be aware that God won’t give you more patience, but will put you in more situations in which you will have to have patience to get through it all.”  Thinking this remark to be funny, many of us laughed.  Little did I know that they were right, for this past week as been a test of patience unlike much I have ever encountered.

            It all started on Friday evening when our church’s administrative assistant informed me that they must leave town for a couple of weeks due to a family emergency.  I quickly told them to go and do what was needed, and we would figure out how to handle things in their absence.  Boy, oh boy, did I not realize what I was saying in that moment!  Our church administrator handles a multitude of tasks that happen at the church, things people often take for granted: looking up licensing numbers for the music we use during the services, preparing bulletins and other church correspondence, taking minutes during church meetings, and handling pretty much all of the church finances.  Who is going to take care of these things now?  I don’t think I can handle it all on my own.  God grant me patience to see it through.

            Then Saturday came, when a tree branch fell and busted the windshield on my wife’s truck.  I mean it really busted it.  The entire driver’s side was nothing but a spider web of cracks and broken glass.  The interior of the truck was covered in tiny shards of the windshield and a layer of glass dust.  There were also a couple of dents and some scratches around the window frame and driver’s door.  What a mess!  And, this happened in the midst of trying to get ready for one of our grandson’s birthday party.  What awful timing!  Yet, even still, I took the time to call the insurance company to report the claim and start making arrangements for repairs.  As of today, the windshield has been replaced, but we are still waiting on the body shop to be able to look at it for an estimate on repairing the damages, which they also told us will take at least two weeks before they can even begin to fix whatever needs to be repaired.  God grant me patience to see it through.

            Then on Monday we were informed that the daycare facility where our dog stays would be closed for the entire week.  Our dog goes there every weekday, not because she always has to, but because she loves to.  She loves the social interaction with the other dogs, being able to run around and play with them.  Now she was going to be stuck at home, and being such a social dog, she couldn’t be left alone for very long at a time.  This meant, for the most part, I was going to be stuck at home, too, trying to keep her entertained while also trying to get some of my own tasks accomplished.  God grant me patience to see it through.

            All of this in just a few days, coupled right along with the other things I have to get done: house and yard work, church administrative tasks, hospital visits, sermon research and writing, and some other special projects that have to be completed in the very near future.  I was beginning to feel exhausted and wondering how in the world I would ever make it through.  There was so much to do, and I really didn’t feel like I had any time to get it done.  How was I ever going to make it?  God grant me patience to see it through.  That is when I remembered what I had written on that tiny piece of paper, and the remark that that individual had made.  My request for patience was really being made clear, for it was in that moment that I realized the Holy Spirit was at work, just as I had prayed for, pushing me to bear fruit for the Kingdom, to have the patience that I desired. 

How often do we recognize God at work in our lives, especially when God is gifting us the very thing we requested to begin with?  Amidst all the things we try to juggle, all the circumstances that come our way, can we open our hearts and minds to bear witness to the Spirit molding us, teaching us, guiding us into the very things we have prayed about?  This past week I could have very easily just chalked it all up to bad luck, but the reality is, it is all a blessing from God.  It is the very gift which I had asked God for in the first place!

Where is God helping you grow in your faith?  Which fruit of the Spirit is being developed in you this very moment?  Can you see it happening?  Are you even aware that the very thing you prayed for is being made a blessing in and through you?

                                                Always pondering,                                                 Pastor Steve

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