I was mugged a few weeks ago. As I walked to church on a quiet Sunday morning, enjoying the brilliant blue sky, and the air scented with honeysuckle, and a praise song on my music player, suddenly three young men ran up behind me.
I turned to face them and began to scream. One rushed at me and tried to take my backpack. After a brief but intense struggle on the ground, he managed to get the music player out of my pocket, and the three left.
Yet I’m thankful, very thankful even.
Naturally, I’m thankful because:
- they didn’t have knives
- this country doesn’t allow handguns, at all
- I wasn’t hurt [except for sore vocal chords from screaming non-stop during the 20 second encounter]
- they didn’t get my backpack which had money, a camera, and hard-to-replace documents
But what I’m most thankful for is how this experience gave me a chance to see what God has been doing in my life. He’s been growing fruit in me.
The fruit of the Spirit is peace
After the attack, I stood alone on the empty street. On a physical and emotional level, I was shaken and trembling. And yet at the same time, as strange as it sounds, I was experiencing a deep, supernatural peace. In a most amazing way, God’s peace, the kind that passes all understanding, was guarding my heart.
Specifically, I had a strong confidence that God was with me. I was certain I still had the promise of eternal life. I knew I was loved by the One who had given His life to redeem me.
This supernatural peace was all the more remarkable to me because there have been many times when this fruit has been missing from my life. I’ve spent years gripped by life-inhibiting fear and anxiety. I know what it is like to wake up in the middle of the night overcome by panic. I know what terror feels like, even when there is no visible threat.
So to feel peace in the midst of a traumatic event isn’t normal for me. Neither was the calm I felt as I looked helplessly down the street achieved by my own efforts. This peace didn’t come because I finally learned how to will myself to be calm. Rather it was spiritual fruit, produced by the Holy Spirit. The attack was simply an opportunity to harvest it.
Along with peace, I had a sense of God’s protection and presence, so much so that another remarkable fruit appeared: joy. Yes, even as I suffered the unsettling theft, I found myself rejoicing. I knew deep down that nothing could separate me from Him. It truly was awesome to experience the truth of what I’ve read in God’s word.
The miracle of a long faithfulness
In the aftermath of this experience, I’ve renewed my commitment to do what I can so that the Holy Spirit can produce even more spiritual fruit in me.
In John 15, Jesus told us what to do. In the Greek, the word is ‘meno’. It can be translated:
The command to remain in Jesus and His love is so key that He repeated it seven times. Seven times, because He knows my tendency to live for myself. He knows His love doesn’t protect me from storm winds tearing through my world. He knows my attachment to the vine needs constant attention and care.
Each day I have to get past my good girl veneer and let His Spirit enter into the gritty reality of my heart. I continually need to refocus on God, and dwell on His truth and discuss my problems with Him.
It’s the patient journey of ten million steps, being led by the Spirit. And 20 seconds of terror that exposes the fruit He has produced in me.