Monday, March 16, 2009

Lenten Disciplines

The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)

"By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. "

Love - imperfect and conditional

Joy - fleeting

Peace - occasional

Patience - not with my difficult husband right now!!!

Kindness - when I feel like it

Generosity - when it doesn't cost me much

Faithfulness - waxes and wanes like the moon

Gentleness - when no one is provoking my temper (like this **** computer)

Self-control - hah! Never with chocolate, rarely with my run-away mouth, sometimes otherwise.

My Lenten discipline this year has been to cultivate those priorities and expectations that are God's, instead of those that are mine or the culture's. As you can see from the list of fruits of the Holy Spirit, I'm not feeling particularly "fruity" right now.

The danger is always that we turn these things into some sort of "God's Holy To-Do List" and get caught up in the despair and failure of trying to live up to these standards. They're meant to raise our awareness of God's good and gracious desires for us and our lives, which the Holy Spirit is working at in us. To be open and aware to that good work, and try not to stand in its way. It's about growing in love and appreciation for the One who wants only the very Best for us.

The problem is, I quickly turn it into a Law, instead of letting it be a purveyor of Grace. It comes down to, "I'm never good enough" & despair when the point is supposed to be "through God, all things are possible" & hope.

As I struggle with these things, I am constantly asking God to give me the wisdom and trust to let Him do what He seeks to do in and through me. This is the point of a Lenten discipline, I guess, to open ourselves up to be kneaded and molded and transformed. So that the cross is more than a symbol, but the life-preserver we cling to, recognizing that only here, at the cross, can we find hope, healing, forgiveness and life.

I hope that you too have cross-encounters this Lent and Easter season, and that you allow the Holy Spirit to do the work that God seeks to do in you. It leads to meaning, and to eternal life.

No comments: