The Fruit Basket Preface
My church houses a small Christian academy within its walls. There are maybe fifty students at the most, coming from many different walks of life. At the beginning of this year, that school teamed up with the children's ministry group for what they called "Kids Incorporated," and plastered on the walls of the sanctuary all nine of the Spiritual fruits. Since then, it has been nagging at me to write down my thoughts and interpretations of those fruits. It has nagged at me for months, because for months the fruits have not moved from their places above the altar and by the exit. So, I have decided to do the job that has been laid upon my heart. The following is an account of my thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit; patience, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and goodness. It will come in nine parts, one for each of the fruits. And, I think, I should try some irony in there and put each fruit in terms of its edible counterpart.
Part One—The Coconut
I am reminded of a cartoon I saw once about a squirrel. It started with that squirrel seeing a stand full of different nuts—the usual assortment of peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and other nuts in general. This squirrel had a beautiful time diving into the cashews. Then he saw the peanuts and had a beautiful time swimming in that bin. Then the squirrel came to the walnuts, big voluptuous seeds that the squirrel tried to juggle.
Anyway, the progression from one nut to a larger one continued for a few minutes until the squirrel saw the mother nut, the coconut. Its eyes went wide, and it scrambled up atop the pile and selected the biggest one it could find. After rolling it off the pile and seeing it fall to the ground, the squirrel was at a loss as to how to crack it open. The rest of the cartoon is about the squirrel trying to get at the meat inside. It tries everything to open the nut. One crack is all it would take for the squirrel to start succeeding.
Finally, at the very end of the show, the squirrel rolls the coconut into an elevator on a skyscraper and rides it to the tip-top floor. At that point, the squirrel is so frustrated that it heaves the nut off the top in one last desperate attempt, and (if I'm not mistaken) rides it down similar to Slim Pickens in the movie, "Dr. Strangelove." Suffice to say, the coconut cracks, splits right in two—only to leave a brand new layer to get through.
Thinking of that poor squirrel, I have to give it credit for having at least one fruit of the spirit: Patience. It takes a lot of patience to crack a coconut. The Bible talks a lot about patience, mostly in the context of having patience through suffering. Paul, who wrote about the fruit of the Spirit, often suffered for his faith, and as evidence in his letters suggest, lost his patience a few times.
Once or twice (actually three times) Paul became impatient with God to remove an infirmity. We know it as the infamous "thorn in his side" passage. Yet in all of this, he still manages to regain what patience he lost.
Almost as much as through suffering, the Bible has passages about having patience while waiting. That could be waiting on other people, or waiting on God Himself. From experience, waiting is hard. Waiting on God is even worse because you never know when something will happen.
I think that is what makes having patience such a difficult nut to crack, so to speak. It is the thought of knowing that something will happen, and being afraid that it will happen too soon, or way too late. It is the "what-ifs" that cloud our minds and distract us from the goal.
And then we try to get it done quicker ourselves, which eventually leads to us failing miserably, which, in turn, leads to our becoming frustrated and running out of patience. A lot of times, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything important. I've seen people go insane over a failed, fiftieth attempt at beating a video game.
Call it quirky, but I think that that sort of thing is just plain stupid. Think of it—if God supplies all of our needs, and/or has made a promise to you, then why should we get upset over something as petty as a video game? The Creator of the universe is looking after you! It's a lot like that old saying, "You've got bigger fish to fry." Why sweat the small stuff when we should be looking forward to the promises of God?
Timing is everything. And often, we don't have a real good sense of timing, even though we think we do. Who is to say that God is wrong and that we are the ones who are right about everything? Why should we listen to a guy who sits on clouds all day spying on us? (It is my personal opinion that if He created us, He sure as heck has a right to know what we're up to).
We should listen though. How many times have I screwed up because I wanted it done now? Too many to count, actually. And I suspect that the same is true for most of the human population. I certainly cannot say that I am not guilty. People say that patience is a virtue, but it is one I lack in sometimes.
I will admit that it would be easier if God told us that He would fulfill his promise when the little hand was on the four and the big hand was on the six. Unfortunately, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, God does not do that. So it is up to us to keep ourselves busy until the proper time comes. That is why Christ gave us the Great Commission, to go out unto all the world preaching the good news. With the world as big as it is, we will be working a long time. It is something to do, anyway, so why not give it a try?
Do not worry, do not fret, and do not run out of patience. Think of it as a long car ride. You know you are going somewhere, but being in the back seat with no view, you have no clue how long it will take you to get there. Just do not jump out of the car.