The flashlights swinging in the night directed me to pull over, and I did.
The Fruit Checkers stopped their search when they caught my face in their beams. "Ma'am, step out of the car."
They were hurrying me along, saying they had a lot of tests and checks to perform, and not a lot of time.
We entered a large building, a hospital, I think. It was crowded, with people standing in lines everywhere. I was directed to step onto a moving walkway, the kind airports have, and to "walk left, stand right."
When I switched walkways, to one moving even more quickly, I also passed under the kind of metal detector "arches" used by airport security. Upon exiting the arch, I felt odd, and cold. I looked down, and I was now without clothing, just generically human, and my skin was completely transparent. I spent a few amazed moments watching my heart beat, my blood flow, and in trying to identify the various organs. I looked up to find a Fruit Checker, now dressed as a doctor--white coat, stethoscope and all. "Cool!" I exclaimed, and he smiled mildly.
"As I'm sure they told you, we have lots of testing to do, so please go directly to Examination Room 12, and have a seat. I'll be there with your chart momentarily."
He walked away, and I noticed that all of the other Fruit Checkers, the people waiting, and the moving walkways were all gone. I was alone in an endless hallway, with fluorescent lights, white walls, and white tile, squeaky clean. Interrupting the walls were doors marked as Examination Rooms, all numbered. I found number twelve easily enough, and sat on a shiny, stainless steel table (the only object in the room), wincing as I did, expecting it to be a little...chilly. It wasn't--it felt comfortable, somehow, like an overstuffed chair.
The Fruit Checker assigned to me entered the room, with my chart as promised. He began: "You are familiar with the Fruit of the Spirit, I assume? Love, Joy, Peace, and so forth?"
I nodded yes--I had memorized them as a child.
He held up his stethoscope, and said that this particular model checked for whichever of the nine Fruits he set the dial to. "Let's start with Love, shall we? This examination will show all the times you demonstrated God's Love."
As he passed the instrument near my head, then my heart, images from my life replayed on the wall, all with a clarity much greater than memory, and with the added feature of being able to experience the event from the point of view of any participant or witness, not just my own. He showed me many times that I had shown love--some I recalled, some I hadn't even realized were loving acts, until seen from the other person's perspective. I felt warm, full, and pleased; I was sure I would pass this test.
Until he said, "Now let's look at the times you didn't display His love." Hot tears flowed as we reviewed times I had utterly failed to show Love, or anything even resembling it. I was glad for the transparency then, because I'm sure I would have blushed a crimson shade in my shame.
And so it went, through each of the Fruits of the Spirit. He didn't comment on the first Fruit, Love, but remarked that my counts were a little low in both Joy and Peace. The examination seemed to go on forever, and I dreaded the last review, which would be the search for Self-Control. I asked if I could take a break before that examination...
And I awoke from the dream with a jerk. I was sitting on my bed, with my Bible open to Galatians 5, and I realized that I had fallen asleep while doing my devotions for the day. I smiled at God's creative way of teaching me, and the dream's images stayed with me throughout the following days.
I now understood why The Fruit Checkers had wanted me to hurry. Even when you know where your areas of weakness are, you only have so much life left to fix the problems!
Each time I pray, I ask God to help me see things as others do, because I want to do better on the next exam, the real one, when He, the ultimate Fruit Checker, looks within me.
August 1, 2004