She sat cross-legged atop the khaki-colored, mammoth-sized, rolled-up hay bale. The sun was setting on the horizon, and lit up the field and farms with a glow of yellow. The heat from the summer day began to subside.
In front of her lay open her notebook. With a ball-point pen in hand, she began to list the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. She looked at them with tension all up her back and into her face, then branded herself, in her mind, with a searing iron of shame: inadequate, lacking, failure.
She didn’t have any of those qualities in her life, especially that first one – love. She was a pitiable pansy, full of fear and trembling, and at that stage in her life, could never reach out in boldness and love someone. Whatever that meant anyway, she didn’t even know. What she knew was that she didn’t have the fruit of the spirit and she felt like if she just had those things in her life, then she would be successful. And so she prayed, after she listed each one of the fruit of the spirit, that she would have them in her life.
She thought she could get them in her life by meditating on each one, or forcing herself to grudgingly just do those things, or forcing those traits somehow into her soul. She couldn’t, though. That wasn’t the way of grace, but rather the way of self-righteousness – that is, of trying to make herself righteous. But, in spite of her theologically backward thinking and her sinful nature, God heard her prayers. He heard the groanings of her soul, and saw the unspeakable anguish of her fearful and useless existence. He saw her sincere desire. Even though she didn’t know it, or really know that he was real, God heard her and saw her.
It is the Heavenly Father’s good pleasure to give humans the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) And he began to move things around in her life so that she would have the kingdom, and have the Holy Spirit, and bear the good fruit. She kept pursuing God and his ways and that fruit, specifically by way of her church’s young adult and student ministry. Her T-group (“T” standing for “transformation”) is where God began to manifest himself in her life.
Lisbet was a townie like her – not a college student. After T-group, she always gave Lisbet a ride home. They sat in the car together in Lisbet’s driveway and Lisbet poured all her soul’s troubles and joys aloud to her. She listened and occasionally contributed a thought here and there. She was an internal processor and hardly spoke during those times, and didn’t really know what to speak, in all honesty. During one T-group meeting, Lisbet had opened up to everyone and was vulnerable about a certain shameful aspect of her life. And because of Lisbet’s example, she began to open up to God about the shameful things in her life.
God responded, and brought Lynn into her life, who loved her with the love of God and shared about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with her. Eventually, she asked for and received that baptism and her life never remained the same. It was like stepping into Narnia or that other faerie land, except it was real and God was real and he began to take control of her life. As she continually sought after Christ and invited the Holy Spirit into her life on a daily basis, the fruit naturally began to grow in her and out of her.