I’ve been a Christian so long that, at times, it’s been easy to take my faith for granted. Dry seasons, wandering seasons, passionately in love with Him seasons.
Every frustrating dry season when I long to hear His voice but for some reason can’t inevitably ends up with a hard self-examination and facing my need to weed out the parts that aren’t bringing Him glory or redirect myself onto the path He’s chosen.
But the fruits of those seasons are always a rich harvest for which I am thankful. Each season has come with life lessons and helped shape me into a more empathetic person full of grace (toward everyone but myself, sadly).
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
The last bit always cracks me up. Do you ever hear people rant, “There ought to be a law!” about one frustrating thing or another? I imagine the religious lawmakers of Paul’s day said it a lot. And while there is no law against the fruits of the spirit, growing them in our daily lives is certainly no easier than following the Old Testament law.
By now, we can agree that 2020 has been a YEAR. Patience runs thin (which is the most difficult fruit of the spirit to grow anyway, IMO). Kindness, goodness, and gentleness are hard to find if you’re watching the news or other media, though if you look around in real life, you’ll find them like plants flourishing in the shade. Same goes for love and joy. I won’t even get started on self-control (hello, extra pounds).
I started out the year writing two books. The first, my final novel in the Everyday Love series which released in May. The second, Always Been Yours, part of the Something Borrowed collection with several of my dearest author friends. Hanady and Keenan’s friends-to-more story came together just how I envisioned. I wasn’t sure what the rest of my writing year held, but I trusted the Lord to show me the way.
Then… in came invitations from two more collections for this Christmas. Peace settled into my spirit while praying about joining them, so I did. And then came quarantine and stay-home orders, giving me more dedicated time to write than ever. With three commitments, I needed every second. Unfortunately, though I exercised self-discipline and saw that fruit grow in abundance, joy and peace began shriveling on the vine.
I finished my second book and excitedly began work on the third, a spin-off from my May release Whatever Happens Next. Rob and Vera’s story came pouring out in the beginning. By the time I hit the middle of Christmas Mercy for the seventh Crossroads collection, though, I struggled. Anxiety and self-doubt strangled my peace.
This was early summer when we were all growing weary of quarantine, our state remaining closed, and mourning all of our canceled plans. Still, I faithfully continued to write and work through the emotions and lack of peace and was overwhelmed by God’s reminder in my life of His mercy. His grace. His good gifts even when we’re a mess inside.
As I made plans to begin my final novella of the year, fear wanted to settle in and make its mark. I had to faithfully practice trust and fight off the doubts of the enemy while also resting in the promise that if God called me to it, He would equip me for it. And because He is faithful, He answered my fervent prayers and expanded my creativity to write This and Every Christmas, part of Hearts Aglow (The Christmas Lights Collection 2020). This story is unlike anything else I’ve ever written. How I wrote it was different, too. It grew me and stretched me and through it I learned so much about the kind of storyteller He calls me to be.
It also reminded me of the words in John 15:5. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. My vine will wither, the fruits shrivel, and words fail. He is the vine from which I grow, from which the fruits of my spirit will grow. These three books are the fruits of faithfulness and self-discipline as I sought peace despite my anxieties. They bring joy to my heart and are a strong reminder of what a big, wonderful God we serve. How He loves me through every up and down and calls me to do the same with Him (and others!). Seeing them out in the world, knowing how much they’ve been prayed and labored over is a tangible bit of each fruit that God has worked in me through 2020.
What fruits are flourishing in you this year? Are you struggling with any? How can I pray for or encourage you?
Be sure to comment, or if you’d prefer, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook. If you’d like to hear more devotional thoughts or stay current on what’s happening in my writer life, you can also subscribe to my irregularly delivered newsletter https://jayceeweaver.com/newsletter (and receive a free book).