Last time, I wrote about how God opens up places of uniqueness, peace, and freedom. I want to talk more about each of these. These tell-tale marks of God’s Spirit. The Bible calls these fruits of the Spirit, evidence that this person has walked through seasons with God as their pace car. For the full list see Galatians 5:22-23.
Some of the fruits of the Spirit are misunderstood because these words have been redefined and ruined. So, let me share a few examples with different words to refresh our understanding.
God’s pacing is never rushed. If there’s a project or a deadline that leaves me rushing my boys or myself to get it done, I can rest assured that it wasn’t a project that was given by God. When God paces me, I can see what’s on the path for me, and I don’t assume there’s more than this. To use an acting metaphor, when I know God’s given me this part on the stage, I know when I’m supposed to enter stage right and exit stage left. This automatically means my anxiety drops. I know the role, I know the stage directions and I (the ultimate prepper, planner “J” on Myers-Briggs) can suddenly enjoy the play. I’m not wanting a bigger part or to rush to get someplace else. This is my pace, this is my place. So, the fruit of the Spirit is peace, presence. I know how to be present.
God’s pacing often weaves several threads from the past into more meaning for the future. God often makes connections between people or ideas that seemed unconnected. So the young boy who enjoyed debating and wanted to become a lawyer, met God as a teen. He found Jesus the most intelligent man who ever lived and wanted to think and become like Jesus. At his college he became student body president and the Spirit showed him how to see through the lies of the school’s administration and whistleblow the hypocrisy. As an adult he writes political memes, records podcasts on faith and politics, and home educates his boys. His name is Dale Fincher. As he daily reveals the political muck the world smears on us (see his Instagram account @voiceofthe2nd), Dale’s insight washes my own imagination clean. His clarity has cut through the generational lies of my own family of origin. And, as we record podcasts and raise our boys in this bleared and duplicitous world, I see how God wove Dale’s life in preparation for mine. I almost married someone else. But, God joined the threads of many lives into the needs of the moment, of my moment here in 2021. All good marriages, paced by God, are like this. The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy.
When God is pacing my day, I am not condemning when others take other paths. I realize how much God customizes the path for each person who follows Him. But when someone else is pacing my day, I easily assume you should hop over here on my path. You should eat more vegetables and recycle. Stop straightening your hair! Stop losing your life to social media! Stop supporting big tech! I become one of the worst types of people: a busybody. The fruit of the Spirit is patience.
God’s pacing offers freedom to have boundaries. A boundary is just a psychological way to say “these are the moral edges of my person.” Politically, boundaries are called “rights”. A boundary is my God-given right to take up space and have needs. God’s pacing makes it easier for me to say “No” to other’s tempting offers to join this or that movement, or party, or church, to have the moral fiber to decline even doing good, helpful things (my kryptonite as a recovering codependent). God’s pacing means I see my boundaries as proper limits to my power. The fruit of the Spirit is goodness.
God’s pacing means I am inspired daily to do things I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. My engineering grandfather would say “He gave me that idea!” about certain solutions he’d find for DIY home projects. Now, I know precisely what he means. I recently painted a grief piece in sepia tones for a family who lost their father. The scene was the bereaved family all planting an olive tree to honor this man’s life. I felt the Spirit’s inspiration to add some color into the top of the olive trees’ leaves, as it reached toward heaven. You can see that piece below. The color is, I believe, the best part of the piece. “He gave me that idea!” The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.
Without God’s pacing I become fearful, I lose my navigation system. I feel off, I become controlling, I push too hard and run too fast, often the wrong direction. I don’t have inspiration or endurance for the right work. I lose my patience and my kindness. And the fruit of the Spirit disappears.
I’d be glad to hear from you. How do you know God is pacing you? Or which of these fruits of His Spirit draw you to want more of His pacing in your life?