Five Minutes can Change your Life
Galatians 5:22-23 “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I will never forget the first time I tasted it. It was like the sweetest thing I had every experienced. I could not get its flavor out of my mind, nor did I want to. It left an indelible mark on my spirit and it changed me forever. This was not an experience that I would take lightly. It really was a “game changer”. What had happened would become a part of our lives and something to reflect back on in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
It was just a typical evening. I had worked all day selling cars for a local credit union. I was working for a car broker and we assisted the members in the purchasing of new and used cars. It was a great job that I enjoyed. Helping people buy cars, allowing them to avoid the dealerships, and still being able to make a living, was a wonderful experience. There was no way to know that this night would revolutionize our world. The events that would unfold would make such a difference in our lives, what a wonderful thing to realize God shows up when we least expect it.
When I pulled up in the driveway, it was just like every other day. What happened when I opened the door could not have been anticipated. I had talked to Carol a couple of times during the day (this was before cell phones). It seemed like a typical day, nothing unusual. Our kids were 5 (Tiffani) and 3 (Buddy) at the time. They were a handful, but nothing that Carol could not handle. There was no crisis to be expected, or, any indication that a divine appointment was imminent.
I walked in the door to find the house in disarray. Not a big deal, pretty typical. I understand that trying to corral the kids during the day is a full time job, keeping the house tidy was not always a priority and I was ok with that. I considered my contribution to be helping get things in order when I got home.
The thing that surprised me on this day was the intensity of Tiffani’s attitude. She seemed particularly defiant and sassy. My first reaction was “she needs to be disciplined, she can not talk to you like that and get away with it”, I said to Carol. Carol replied “No, she’s had enough of that today, she just needs some daddy time.” My attitude was not tender when I responded “I’ll give her some daddy time”, gesturing a spanking. Again, Carol said “no, that’s not what she needs”. I was thinking “is she nuts? This kid is treating her badly, has a terrible attitude and she needs the spanking spoon.”
Now, I was at a cross roads with two choices: 1. Do the disciplinary thing and spank her, she clearly needed it, or, 2. Listen to my wife and heed her direction. I was reminded of Ephesians 5:21 about “submitting one to another.” At this point in our relationship I had made a commitment to Carol to listen to her promptings. I had discovered my initial reactions when I got home were not very productive and usually ended badly. It had dawned on me that “she is with the kids all day long, she knows their needs, she understands their spirits condition, why would I presume to know what they needed?”
So, I said “ok, I can do that. If that’s what you believe she needs.” I went to Tiffani and asked her to sit with me. At this point, I set aside what I thought she needed (Proverbs 14:12 “There’s a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”), she was reluctant, and very contentious. I prayed “Lord, I really need you, help me settle down and meet the need of my little girl.” With a little more prompting I sat her on my lap. She did not like this. She started squirming, and wrestling to get away. I resisted my inclination to scold her and I gently held her, and starting whispering in her ear “I’m sorry you have had a tough day, I know you are frustrated. Just sit with me for a while, it will be ok.” As I softly spoke to her, she settled down, the next thing I knew, she was curled up in my lap crying. She said she was sorry for having such a bad attitude, she was repentant and her spirit broke.
Wow, this event took all of 5 minutes. She had a total change of heart and quickly apologized to her mother. The feeling I had was so intense it brings tears to me as I recall it. I had tasted something special, something life giving. What was it? It was the patience of God. It was His fruit, for me to experience and pass on. What a magnificent experience. I’m not sure that I had ever felt like this. I have always wanted to experience patience, but I wanted it right now, quickly, ha ha. Patience had never been something I enjoyed, something allusive, outside of my capacity. But, here it was, and it tasted so good. I had made a choice to listen to my wife, reach out to the Lord and I was the one who received the most for it.
As I reflected on this event, I realized spanking her would not have brought the broken spirit I, or the Lord, had desired. I may have been able to get her to apologize, but would it have been genuine? Would I have wounded her spirit? Would I have created an unhealthy fear of me? The Lord wanted to teach me a new way of dealing with our kids and with life. I was quickly reminded of another scripture that galvanized this event in my spirit: Romans 2:4 “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” It is the love of God that allows our spirits to be broken, not His discipline, not His wrath, not His judgment.
For so long I desired to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. I knew it was something valuable. This event allowed me to discover that the fruit was for me to experience. If I would surrender to the Spirit of God, I would enjoy His fruit. As I enjoyed his fruit, then others could experience it from me. I could not produce His fruit, only He could.
This was one of the most significant experiences of our lives! And, it only took five minutes, yet it remains with us still. The taste of patience has created a craving in my soul for more. Christ is so patient with me, I just need to enjoy it! It reminded me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” I must first receive the comfort, then; those around me can be affected by it.