In the midst of my own current speechlessness, and the remnants of the five to ten posts I have started recently and haven’t finished, I remain dependent on others for content.
The fruit of the Spirit is not automatic. I can’t just think about God and superficially read my Bible every day and “get fruit.”
I have to root my spirit in His, in the nurturing soil of the Word incarnate and the Word written. I have to put myself in locations conducive to spiritual nourishment — family, church community, a quiet corner in which to really pray and study.
In his novel The Fourth Treasure, Todd Shimoda describes the efforts of Japanese calligraphers to perfect their artistry. One sensei instructs his students to perform ten thousand strokes a day for ten thousand days. And then the student might be ready.
And the strokes are not the Japanese characters themselves, but the individual strokes — the “radicals” — that together make a character. That’s ten thousand times a day, for ten thousand days, of practicing the parts of a letter. Can you imagine having to practice drawing the three separate parts of an A for that long before you can attempt to draw the actual letter?
But there is a beauty and a spirit and an emotional substance to expertly rendered Japanese kanji not found in the cold geometry of our twenty-six-letter alphabet.
There is a difference between trying and training.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6.9
The work of sanctification is God’s. But there is work to be done on my part, as well. The works of faithfulness.
Disciplines to undertake. Hard work. Consistency. Perseverance.
A long obedience in the same direction.