The Bible lesson this week sounds like it was on gardening but it really wasn't. She talked about fruit and roots. Fruit is what you say. To yourself especially but also to others. It's what we can identify if, while driving down the freeway with our mind in "neutral", we mentally stop and examine our free-flowing self-talk. I am so stupid! How could I have missed that exit again! What???? That . **&%$#jerk just cut in front of me... Um... tomorrow is going to be so cool! I can't wait to see so-and-so again... Ugh... I just wish I didn't look like Tubby the Tuba... I bet she's still as skinny as ever... I hope my husband isn't expecting a hot meal tonight... Maybe we can go out to eat again... It's been a stressful day. I could use a nice meal cooked by someone else. I can diet tomorrow...
All of that is what Jennifer calls "fruit", much of it internal... some of it, um, external... like when the jerk cuts you off on the freeway... Sometimes we want to cringe and drag our verbal fruit right back into the basket and pretend it never rolled out to begin with. But most of our internal fruit just flows along at the rate of 350 words a minute without us paying much attention to it and without anyone else really knowing.
Yet it's there. And it influences all we say and do. And it doesn't spring from thin air.
Our self-talk is rooted in what we believe. If our beliefs (the roots from which our words and actions spring) are true, then our fruit is good. If our beliefs are false, then our fruit is detrimental. Everything we say or do springs from truthful concepts or presumptuous, false assumptions.
Having said that, I have to admit that sometimes I just hate it when I'm doing a Bible study and I find myself the object of the lesson....
The other day, I was waiting for my niece and I wanted to get a watch. To understand this properly, you have to realize that I don't even wear watches as a rule. Over the years, I've had many. Always, after a short time, I forget to put them on, I forget to set them correctly, I don't like them because I really don't like wearing jewelry when I'm typing so I take them off, set them down, and .... usually, eventually, lose them.
So for the first half hour, while I waited for my niece yesterday, I kept thinking about that watch... Would I have time to go get it after my niece got finished with her interview? Should I spend that much money on a watch? (The answer was "no" but I acted like I didn't know that, telling myself this time it would be different... Like I'm almost sixty and my life is littered with dead and/or lost watches... so I need another potential electronic corpse on my hands... ha!) Would Phil consider buying it for me for Valentine's day? (The answer was "yes", I was sure, but just in case... I was seriously considering buying it for myself and then telling him, "Look what you got me for Valentine's day!!!" Only I'd already decided to do that sort of with the purses...)
When it became clear that my niece's interview was not going to finish any time soon, I got out my Bible.... Yep. I had it with me and for a reason.... Um... it was my turn to lead our discussion group Thursday night at 6 and it was already 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon and I hadn't finished the last day's lesson yet.... But my self-talk was all about this watch that I just had to have or else I couldn't really be happy.... Sigh...
So I opened my Bible, got out Jennifer's workbook study, Me, Myself, and Lies and started working on roots and fruits.... But still... for the next thirty minutes my thought life was bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo between lies-are-roots-that-lead-to-bad-fruit and if my niece makes it out to the car in the next 15 minutes or so, I think I can still have time to finish my study and pick up that watch - maybe on the way to the Bible study if I leave my house early enough...
Thankfully I ended up waiting for an hour and a half. The first thirty minutes, as I've indicated, were spent plotting and planning about the watch. The next thirty minutes were spent thinking about the watch and the Bible study which was no easy feat, let me tell you!:) And then, finally, during the last thirty minutes, the Bible study kicked in full force and I found contentment and joy right there in my grubby car on Applebee's parking lot with my duct-tape covered Bible, my workbook, my pen, and.... no watch!!! Imagine that!!!
Before it was over, I asked God to lead me from one truth to another and I began to write them down in the front of my Bible as He brought them to mind:
Truth: God doesn't condemn me. :) :) :) Romans 8:1
Truth: I am rooted and grounded in His love! Ephesians. 3:17
Truth: God is always with me. Here in this car. At home. I'm never alone. Awesome! Hebrews 13:5-6
Truth: Because I am His child, if I am wronged and ever need to be vindicated, He will do it. Isaiah 54:17
Truth: I can know Christ by sharing in the fellowship of His suffering as well as His resurrection life. Phil. 3:10
Truth: Things are, um, basically... refuse and gold is just Heavenly tar for paving celestial roads with... if you compare them to the value of knowing Christ. Phil 3:10; Rev. 21:21
Truth: Christ is my life. Col. 3:1-3
Truth: Jesus gives joy. John 15:11 (Watches don't...:)
Truth: Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7
Truth: I am at peace with God. Romans 5:1
Truth: I have a deep down peace through Christ that cannot be destroyed by hard times. John 16:33
Truth: I am truly rich now (II Corinthians 8:9) and will be even wealthier later on. I Peter 1:4
And that's where I ran out of time... but not out of truth:)
Don't get me wrong: there's nothing bad about buying purses and watches! But my self-talk was erroneous - I have to get this watch to be happy... In fact, I can't be happy (contented, satisfied) until I get it! And it stemmed from a false assumption (the root, if you will) that I don't even notice and/or question which is .... If I really want something, I have to have it or I can't be happy. (Even though if you had asked me, I would have told you, in all honesty, that I didn't believe that).
I know from experience that I would enjoy the watch for a few days or even weeks, but just like the purses I got on Wednesday, it would not bring me pleasure for long... There will always be something else that catches my eye, entices my spirit. There will always be the purses that I didn't get (but I still remember!), the watch that I saw on my way out of the store, the new book that I just have to read, etc. (Incidentally, I do love the blue purse that I got on Wednesday but...unfortunately, I can't fit my car keys into it and still have room for my cell phone... So now I carry my keys everywhere I go! :)
Anyway, the truth is:
Jesus gives deep down joy. Things give, at best, temporary pleasure. (And it is possible to want something, not get it, and still be content. I proved that yesterday sitting on the parking lot at Applebee's...)
Which leads to another truth: I want things but I need Jesus.