I noticed a large USPS priority box sticking out of my mailbox. I wasn’t expecting a package, so I was curious as to what it could be. As I pulled it out, the handwriting looked familiar. I saw the return address: it was mine. I hadn’t sent any large packages lately, so what could it be? I glanced at the address and saw my nephew’s name. I hadn’t sent him anything for…um, over six weeks!
He had been taking an intensive college course, and I sent him a container of chocolate chip cookies over a week before he was scheduled to come home. He didn’t have phone service, so I couldn’t alert him about the package, but it didn’t occur to me he might not receive it. I checked the notes on the box. It arrived several days before he flew home. In fact, two of the dates written on the box were before his last day. Three more dates were written on the box. Five delivery attempts in all.
I shook the box, which caused a sound I’d never heard come from the many packages of cookies I’ve sent to college students. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open the box. I didn’t know what I would find, but my daughter’s curiousity was contagious.
I would have expected the chocolate chips to melt and create one large glob of cookie. Not so. The cookies apparently sat in a cool enough place, because there wasn’t a mess of chocolate at all. Apparently, cookies left in a sealed container for six weeks will eventually break into chunks, which significantly harden.
I called my nephew to ask if he needed any practice hockey pucks. He told me he’d received a phone call a couple weeks earlier, saying he had a package at a small post office close to the remote area where his ecology class was held. He wasn’t in the area to pick it up, so he told the person to return the package to the sender. The sender was me.
When what we have goes unused and unclaimed, it loses its appeal, freshness, and usefulness. Consider fruit. If left on the vine or plant too long, it will rot. If it’s not cultivated, watched and attended to, it often gets eaten by insects and animals. If picked and left in a bowl or refrigerator, it will soften and sour.
There’s a season and a time for everything.
But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Galatians 5:22-23
The fruit of our lives comes from God. The fruit of our lives is intended for God’s glory. It’s both from and for God. What God gives us, we return to him as an offering.
The Holy Spirit nourishes us, pouring into us everything that we need to live out the life God intends…to fulfill his purpose for us…to fully experience the process of life. As the Holy Spirit nourishes us, and as we’re obedient, relying on him for all guidance and discernment, we grow. Fruit buds and grows and flourishes. You’re not going to automatically produce fruit, which means your life isn’t going to automatically be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You’ll have to yield to God, yield to the Holy Spirit working through you.
God produces fruit in you. When you extend it back to him as an offering, in what condition is it? Fresh, choice fruit or rotten fruit? Freshly-baked cookes or hardened, crumbling cookies?
Since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Romans 12:1