For instance, today I was thinking about these things called the 'fruits of the Spirit', which I understand to mean, the things that God grows in us, which improves our relationship with God, and God's children--ALL God's children.
When things are going well by our standards, we are arrogant ("I am doing just fine without God."). We are inattentive ("Wow, I have a really good life but I deserve it because I'm a good person. God must like me."). We are procrastinating (I believe in you, God, and I really need to make time for that. I will when things get a little less hectic."). It seems that rarely would I look at a lovely vista or beautiful sunset and think, "Oh, my God, how wonderful You are." Nope, I was the kind of person that had to wallow in loss, grief and despair before I turned my face to God, and sheepishly said, "Uh, God, I know I have not been talking to You that much lately or studying You that much or working for You that much, but I am exhausted, empty and lost. Can I please get back in Your good graces? I really need Your help and I don't know where to begin." And God said, "You already have begun and You were never out of my good Grace. You just quit paying attention Pay attention now while We get you healthy again. And remember, we are on My time now. Keep paying attention. Are you paying attention?"
This is why St. Paul believed this: "And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us."*
Did God send divorce, the death of my father, unemployment, or the loss of my children to me as a punishment? No! But He did get my attention!
And as I quit fighting to be independent, admitting that I longed for God more than I wanted my own way, He sent the most amazing gifts of all: an awareness of God's love and patience, the comfort of the Spirit, and an understanding of the need to submit to the disciplines that would strengthen me and in strengthening me give me hope and a future.
So, wherever you are on your journey, this is my hope for you. Do one more thing, one new thing or a more humble approach to something you are already doing, to open the doors to a better life for yourself where you can claim the promises of God in your life. God does not expect you to be able, just a glimmer of willingness is all it takes.
I know this to be most certainly true in my life. And pray you will give it a try in yours.
* Romans 5: 3-5