Choosing love, patience, and gentleness,brings restoration
I sat on my back porch watching a roadrunner zip by and baby bunnies hop across the field. I pondered my problem and began talking to God about it. I am so glad he is never too busy to visit with me and is my helper in times of trouble. Psalms 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (NIV) Running to him is always the best thing to do to to find safe place to access the situation and find strength.
I usually let things roll off my back and do not get my feelings hurt very often, but a recent event with someone in the family, left me a little bruised and upset. “Lord you saw what happened,” I softly said to God. “And it hurt my feelings too God,” I continued.
Just as I uttered the words, I remembered a statement I heard years ago, “you don’t have a right to be hurt, you have a right to be healed.” I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I felt like I was right in this situation and felt misunderstood. I wanted to nurse my hurt a little before I really turned it over to Jesus for healing. Years ago in my life, I thought it was ok to hang on to hurt and offenses for a little while but as I’ve matured in life and my walk with the Lord, I know that is not the best thing for me or the situation.
I have been studying Galatians 5 and what God looks like in situations or otherwise known as the fruit of the Spirit. “For the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 (NIV). We put ourselves in a win-win situation when we practice these attribute and give the attributes to people. And let me just say, it takes lots of practice!
The fruit of the Spirit is how God wants us to live. He has given them to us to govern our lives and when we live in them, we stay in step with Him. Most of all, I feel God wants us to give them away to others to touch their lives. Most situations are about us being changed to be more like Jesus and God then using us to touch others he loves.
I felt God ask me, “Kathleen, what fruit do you need to serve in this situation?” Once again, I took a deep sigh… I wasn’t sure I wanted to serve anything to anybody but I quickly let go of that thought as I thought of God’s patience with me and his kindness and love.
“Well God, it needs love, I can be loving like you.” I muttered still struggling. “ I can serve patience because you have been patient with me and I can give self control even though I do not feel like it,” I continued to pray. “Change my heart God,” I asked.
I began to ask God to help me to love like he does, pour patience over the situation and to exercise self control instead of doing what I felt like or wanted to do. Everything in our lives is about us being conformed and changed into the image of God. He uses everything in our lives, the good things and the hard things. I also realized I could serve some gentleness in my approach to this person and that could defuse defensiveness and create a pathway for communication and restoration.
Step one in tough and difficult situations is always to get my heart right in situations. When I lay down my right to be right and ask God to help me see things from his perspective, forward steps toward restoration are always made. What about you? Do you examine your heart in situations and ask God where it needs to change?
Not long after my conversation with God, I arranged to meet this person as it is usually better to address situations soon so walls do not build between the two of you.
“God give me your heart and give me your grace and power to serve the fruit of your spirit well and say healing words,” I prayed.
As we met, I gently stated my love for the person, my desire for restoration, and wanted to hear their perspective, I saw the situation begin to change. I saw where I needed to be more patient and let God work on the situation instead of me. As I served, self control, kindness and love, things changed and there was a beautiful restoration.
What fruit do you need to serve to others around you? Do you need to lay down your right to be right? Which fruit do you need to practice? God is right there to help you, to change you and your conflict or tough situation. Pick a fruit and get busy practicing and serving. You will be glad you did and so will those around you…