Today I am still feeling utterly miserable! My busted ribs still hurt, the nausea persists and I’m getting “couch sores” that I just can’t seem to squirm away from without the ribs stabbing back at me. I grumble a lot, and I don’t like being with myself, and I’m certainly not being very fruitful! I hate being such a burden to my caring wife — and she’s not feeling all that hot either!
But this is the real stuff of life. You know it. And if faith in Christ is of any worth at all then it must be of worth on days like these also.
I want to write more about staying connected to Christ, the Vine, and producing spiritual fruit (Pastor Steve’s Sunday message). It’s not coming. Frustrated, I pick up today’s reading in Bonhoeffer instead.
He reminds me of Paul’s words to the Galatians, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2), and, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (v.10).
I’m am doing neither of these things this day. Instead, others are doing these things for me! Bonhoeffer’s ‘Journal Reflections’ tightens my thumbscrew more and asks, “Think of the people in your life. To whom are you a burden? How does it feel? In what ways do the people in your life help bear your burdens?”
Hey!–How’d he know I felt myself a burden to others? But he was right. While I much prefer to “Cast my burdens on the Lord” (Ps. 55:22), it seems in many instances the Lord prefers to support me by passing them on to His Body, the Church—you and I. Regardless of what I may prefer, this time I am the recipient, not the benefactor, of this ministry.
How do they help bear my burdens? Well they have done so by God’s love… His life flowing through them. They have shown this in their goodness and kindness, words of encouragement and prayers. They have demonstrated patient endurance, gentleness and joy. They have ministered to me with the fruits of the Spirit! Aha! How sly of the Lord! The very thing I was supposed to write about this day, yet which seemed so far from me, He has brought round to me through the back door… right into the living room of my small miseries.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23)
Stay connected to Christ, this Vine. Not only for your own virtue, but for all of those who will from time to time need spirit-borne fruit to sustain them. And when it’s your turn to be nourished through others, be thankful. It is all from our loving Lord.
“You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:15,16)
Follow Pastor Steve’s new message series on the Gifts of the Spirit online: look under ‘Media’ at the Lincoln Baptist Church website.