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By Linda Truxell
This summer I really enjoyed the sermon series on the “Fruit of the Spirit”– love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, generosity, faith, gentleness and self-control (as described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians). While I looked forward to them each week, I will admit I wasn’t too sure about that last one, “self-control.” When Fr. Chris preached on it at one of the outdoor services, it also didn’t help that there were issues with the microphone which were distracting. I made a point to listen to it again on the church podcast on one of my walks (a practice I highly recommend by the way – just search for “Christ Church Cranbrook” in your favorite podcast app) and am glad I did. I came away with a new appreciation for what the Apostle Paul was trying to get at. What I now understand is that the Fruit of the Spirit are like produce, like an apple plucked from the tree of faith. If we live in faith, the fruit are manifested in our lives. They can be harvested, enjoyed and not depleted or permanently damaged. Conversely, without faith, we can try as hard as we want to create love, peace, joy in our lives but they will be unreliable and temporary at best; they will come and go.
The fruit of “self-control” wasn’t about going to the gym more often or not overindulging, but the discipline of living with faith in daily life and not letting our fears lead us back to reliance on ourselves, instead of reliance on God. When I get fearful and have anxious thoughts, I hear a voice from within that lets me know I’m suffering because I am trying to handle things and not letting God be in control of my life. When I shift the focus from my control to God’s control, I feel a calming that is like an immediate shoulder massage.
I’ve wondered why I have to re-learn this lesson again and again? Shouldn’t I know better by now than to let fear get the best of me? But I have come to realize that that in my experience, faith is less about living with perfect self control and without fear, and more about putting my trust in God earlier and more often. In fact, as I have grown in faith, I have noticed the shortening of the time span between living with anxiety and fear and the true peace that comes from knowing God is in control and He has me in the palm of His hand. When I do that, the fruit of the spirit feel abundant in my life regardless of the circumstances. Thank you all for a wonderful series!