Psalm 130:5–6 (NIV)
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.1
Today at the Farmers’ Market of the Fruit of the Spirit we have truckloads of love coming in the form of the fruit of patience.
When “Lee and I” reached the age of adulthood on the farm (14ish), Peepaw brought us into full partnership in a project he had patiently waited years to launch—the melon business. He commandeered about six quarter mile length rows on the end of one of the cotton fields and we hand pushed a single-row wheeled planter back and forth sowing half of the plot in watermelons and half in cantaloupes. This was our first bona fide “truck patch.”
Talk about a high maintenance operation requiring enormous patience. It took almost two weeks to see sprouts peeking above the ground. And then they seemed to go into high gear with vines spreading literally everywhere into the most tangly mess you can imagine. I’ll never forget the day Peepaw told us we had to train the vines down the rows so the middles could be plowed. This meant carefully untangling the terribly tangled vines and arranging them on top of the rows in straight line fashion. And did I mention those six rows were each a quarter mile long? That comes to a mile and a half of vines for those doing the math. And did I mention the “plowing” on this plot would be done by me and Lee—physically maneuvering a massive one-row gasoline powered tillivator down the middles at just under an eighth of a mile an hour? Peepaw made us do it twice.
Then we waited for the flowering blooms and finally came the fruit; the tiniest watermelons and cantaloupes you’ve ever seen. You all know the law of the farm—how the more you watch something grow, the less it grows? It seemed like an eternity waiting for those melons to grow. When something the size of a marble has to grow into the size of a bowling ball it can seem to take forever. And once it finally reaches full size, it has to ripen; which means rotating and turning every single one of the “million” melons in the field multiple times.
I think you are getting the point on the meaning of “the fruit of the Spirit is love-becoming-patience. The biblical meaning of the concept of patience carries some sophistication. The antiquated term “long-suffering” is often substituted for patience. We will get into more of that tomorrow. The simple meaning I want us to grasp today can be brought down to one word: waiting. It is not the passive posture of the waiting room, but the active waiting of the farm. There is a deep, dispositional Holy Spirit–endowed character formation that comes from the simple act of waiting—on anyone or anything and in any circumstance. The longer we ask, “How long?” the longer we must submit to the answer, “Longer!”
The miracle happens when we allow our many experiences of waiting in life to be slowly transformed into a habituated disposition of waiting on the Lord. From red lights and grocery store lines to biopsy results and court rulings—when our every day moments of impatience can be translated by the Holy Spirit into the presenced posture of waiting on the Lord we will begin to see the small beginnings of fruit on the vine.
Finally, the day came when Peepaw (aka the great taste-maker of the truck patch) gave the thumbs up on moving from the farm to the market. The waiting was over. The joyful first fruits of the harvest were upon us.
Wake up, sleeper! Wake up to waiting on the Lord; with your whole being, inner and outer, heart, mind, soul, and spirit, as an act of love. And know this—Jesus will give you the very patience he asks for from you. We must only wait, patiently, actively, and in the deepest confidence of the love of God.
Father Farmer God, make of my life a farmers’ market. Make of the garden of my inmost being a place of the patience-filled fruit bearing of love. I want to be so captured by the patience of God that it becomes, in me, instinctive, impulsive, compulsive, and compelling—governed by your Spirit. Holy Spirit, train my waiting in all the lines to become a waiting on you, where I learn your patience in the midst of my otherwise impatient ways. Jesus, you are love and love is patient and you are in me; hence, I am becoming patient. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
Would you consider yourself a patient person? What do you think is at the root of your impatience? Are you seeing how patience is not so much a virtue you become as it is the welcoming of Jesus into the deepest place in your inmost being?
THE HYMN (We sing on the Recording)
Today we will sing the hymn, “Trust and Obey” on page #334 of our newly released Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
NOTES FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
- Every morning, as my body begins to wake from sleep and my consciousness returns from the dream state I am led by the Spirit (I believe) to awaken my inmost being. As Lucy begins to burrow her way out of her subterranean cave beneath the blankets, I say aloud:“Wake up, sleeper and rise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14
You guessed that, right? Then I speak this word aloud:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
I am learning that every day must begin with waiting on the Lord, else it will never begin. That is my daily wake-up call. Just as we must wake from physical sleep every single day of our lives, so we must awaken our inmost being from slumber. That’s why we call this whole thing the Wake-Up Call.