By Lisa Huddleston
“To that end keep alert with all perseverance …” (Ephesians 6:18).
It happens every year when the garden begins to produce fruit and vegetables. We pick what’s ripe and bring it into the kitchen with joy. Fresh fruit and veggies–homegrown and absolutely delicious! We prepare some for the freezer or refrigerator, but much of our produce remains on the counters to eat as we go. A container of blueberries here. Some ripe red tomatoes there. And before we know it, our poor kitchen is swarming with rotten old fruit flies. I just hate it! They get into everything, and I have yet to find a good way to get rid of them.
This year I’ve tried to be tricky with the little pests. One day I sat a bowl of over-ripe fruit in the sink with the wrap open just enough to lure them in. Once I found them inside, I quickly covered the opening of the bowl and ran it outside to dump over the fence. (I live in the country—nothing but cows to see the mess.) It worked great on the ten or twenty I trapped, but it did very little to cut back the general population in the kitchen.
Next I told my husband to leave a bowl of grape juice on the counter overnight. I had had trouble keeping them out of my glass so I figured that a bowl would draw them right in to drown in juice. Again, it worked on a few of them, but didn’t amount to much of a coup.
So I’m back to waiting them out. We’ve done our best to get rid of all evidence of fruit or veggies. All our pretty produce is locked away in the refrigerator where sadly much of it will be forgotten. Out of sight is too often out of mind. But the flies will starve and the annoyance will soon be over.
Even before beginning this little homily, I knew that the metaphors are not a perfect fit, but I beg you to bear with me as I believe there are important truths to recognize in it. You see, Chuck and I have been going through a time of great spiritual harvest. We have experienced the hard work of preparing the land, the seeds of truth have been planted, and the fruit of the Spirit has been ripening in our relationship. It is a time of joy and delight.
But, it is also a time of fruit flies. I think the devil is really ticked by the fruit the Spirit has produced, and even though he can’t destroy the work of God, he can annoy the hell out of us at times. (Forgive me, but hell is his business!) A snide word here. A misunderstanding there. People trying to hold us back from the new work God has begun in us. Not an all out battle, but a peevish vexing of our joy. And I’m getting more than a little tired of it.
What can I do? Well, I could swat at every irritation, worry about responding to every attack, and generally get out of humor and touchy over the whole thing. But what’s the point? It gets me all worked up and slowly drains the wine of joy from my glass. I know that I simply need to wait it out. Perseverance is what will get me through this time just as it will get my kitchen cleared.
As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” I don’t know that that armor includes mosquito nets, but I think that is a good weapon in my current battle. I can outlast these fruit flies because part of the fruit they are after is Patience and the Holy Spirit has an abundance of it. Yes. I’m standing firm—just ignore the flies!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).