This past Sunday we wrapped up our nine month study on the fruits of the Spirit. Over these months it's been our hope that you accepted God's invitation to allow His image, which is already in you as His beloved child, to grow and flourish. His image is seen in the fruits of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These fruits (character traits) can and will come forth in our lives as we participate with God in the "cleaning up" of our interior lives. It's been seen over and over, as we take God's hand and tend to our interior lives our external lives change for the good -often with little direct effort on our part.
In order for us to more fully participate with God in this interior work, it behooves us to have a vision of what our lives would look like as a result of doing the work. It is hard to be motivated to engage in a project (cleaning the car, landscaping the yard, creating a web page, etc) if we don't have an end picture in mind. So too with our interior life. We need a vision/a picture of what our lives will look and feel like if we cooperate with the Spirit in digging up the hard pan (barriers to God) in our heart and mind. Part of the beauty of the fruits of the Spirit is that they give us a rough sketch of what our lives would look like if we engage the process. They show us a picture of a soul and heart that isloving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self controlled. The fruits paint the broad picture. But it is up to us, with the help of the Spirit, to add the details of our individual lives (e.g. peace flourishing at work or home, joy overcoming depression, anger giving way to love and forgiveness, etc).
Once we have a vision we need deliberate intention to follow the vision. Cherry Haisten defines intention as, "a conscious aim or purpose toward something." Intention flows out of deliberation. If we regularly and deliberately choose an intention, we find that we live with that purpose in mind. If our vision is to allow God's image in us to grow and flourish, we must regularly choose that as our deliberate intention. Our intention will waver and be influenced by mixed motives. But if we keep returning to God with our intention, over time we will find God fulfilling our vision in us.
Not only do we need vision and intention, we also need means. Means are the practical tools that we take up to make ourselves available to God so His work can be done in our heart and soul. The tools of solitude, silence, centering prayer and spiritual journaling are especially effectivein breaking up the hard pan of our hearts and lives. What tool you choose is not nearly as important as picking up a tool and using it on a regular basis. Our part is to show up, be as honest, open and willing as we can be, and God does the rest. He does for us what we could not do for ourselves. He brings forth in us His own image and likeness in our hearts and lives.
By Babs May-Clark