He approached the house and punched the doorbell, then hit the button again. Finally, he knocked politely on the heavy oak door. “Anyone home?” His voice was deep and powerful enough to shake the neighbors’ boots.
His delivery amounted to nine large suitcases.
He left the luggage stacked on the porch, headed down the walk, and drove away.
That evening Erin arrived home first, feeling overwhelmed by runaway emotions. Her mood reflected her disappointments: marriage, work, lack of self-control. Sadly, another stressor had surfaced at work that very week. A colleague, Janet, kept trying to tell her about things going on at her church. “Crazy woman,” Erin said as she fumbled in her purse to find her house key. “Janet’s so sure Jesus is the answer to everything. What does He know about emotionally abusive husbands, financial debt, and eating disorders?” Hot tears stung her eyes.
She raced through the front door and slammed it behind her. There was time – time to hide in the dark closet with her stash of gourmet chocolate-covered cookies. The magnetism of momentary comfort pulled her upstairs, straight to the shoebox full of junk food. She could eat the whole bag of cookies if she hurried, then would intentionally vomit and look perfectly normal at dinnertime.
Ray was on his way home, absorbed by thoughts of his new product line at work that was just about to launch. Sure, it would take lots of work to get the product moving in the marketplace, but he was up for the challenge. This was what he lived for, wasn’t it - success, accomplishment, and recognition?
Then his thoughts shifted to that guy down the hall in his office, and the confrontation that had occurred only moments before.
“Hey Ray,” Roger said with one foot crossed as he leaned against the outside of Ray’s cubical. “Ya know, I’m amazed by the topic of that small group I’ve been tellin’ you about…stuff about what it means to be a man… ‘wild at heart’ is what they call it…I think you’d really like it…you’re welcome to visit this Wednesday.”
Roger fumed inwardly. Didn’t this bozo know his limits? Whenever Roger went off on a limb to talk about his Christian experiences, Ray told himself to tolerate him, but not patronize. He didn’t want Roger to get the wrong idea.
“Thanks, buddy, but ya know, I’m already busy.” It was true. He had a standing evening date with cable TV from 7:00 – 10:00. Erin hated his addiction to TV, but wasn’t a man entitled to a little private recreation?
Road rage defined the rest of his drive home. “Why does Roger always think he has to ‘fix’ me?” Doesn’t he know I’m fine; God made me just the way I am? Why is he always harping about ‘growth’? Why should I even want to change? What’s his deal, anyway?”
Ray roared into the driveway, screeched to a stop behind Erin’s car, and stormed into the house. Erin seemed busily occupied with dinner preparations; he sunk behind the newspaper.
Months later on Easter Sunday morning they attended church with a few of Erin’s extended family members. Circumstances were just right. It was time for seeds of witness to spring to life. The Lord reached down and carefully removed a substantial measure of stony, crippling lies from their hearts, and then softened and prepared them both to hear and receive the Truth.
“I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly,” the pastor said. Life. Security. Forever. Something stirred in Erin…then in Ray…and hope leapt within them. Could it be…was this feeling…authentic? Was belief in Jesus more about trusting Him than mere acknowledgment? Was there a way to live above wishing and worrying?
After the service, Ray and Erin hurriedly retreated to their car in the parking lot. Erin immediately burst into tears. “I just didn’t ‘get it’ before…” Ray’s pulse pounded in his temples. “Is it too late? Can we…is it possible to actually know Him…?”
As they arrived home from church and pulled in the driveway, they both noticed something strange. “Erin, look, there’s a pile of luggage sitting on our porch!” They stopped the car, and Ray hurried up the walk to inspect the tags labeling the bags. Each suitcase contained a specific “fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They carried the bags inside, aware that a new Occupant had arrived to stay.
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