Hope your week has been as slow and lazy as mine. Nate is at the beach with our church, Sam’s swim season is wrapping up, and Dub, of course, drives himself everywhere. This is the first week of summer that I’ve not raced anyone to camp (as an attendee or counselor), or to driving school a half hour away. Instead I’ve made big breakfasts after swim practice and leisurely read Scripture to Sam while he ate.
There was a season maybe six years ago where my carpool buddy did the morning run. I started reading the boys a devotional at the door as we waited for her van to pull up. To engage them I would intermittently skip a word, mostly at the end of sentences, and let them try to fill it in. I even offered monetary rewards for correct answers. I hadn’t thought about that in years, but as I read to Sam this week, I did the same thing. It’s encouraging how adept he is at filling in the biblical blank, because I’ve been horribly inconsistent with Scripture and devotional reading. We read Psalm 23, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 13. These are passages familiar enough to most believers that filling in the blank is not very challenging.
He makes me lie down in green __________, he leads me beside quiet __________, he __________ my soul.
Do not repay anyone __________for __________… Do not take __________, my friends, but leave room for God’s __________
Love is patient, love is __________. It does not envy, it does not __________. It is not proud. It is not __________, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily __________, it keeps no __________ of __________.
Even though these are some of the most commonly quoted passages, and we know the right answer, the real issue is whether we live the right answer. Do we rest in the green pastures of summer, savoring the quiet waters, knowing only God can restore souls? Are we tempted to repay evil for evil, or do we know that it is God’s to avenge? Are we kind or boastful? Are we rude or easily angered? Do we keep records of wrongs?
Like anything else in the life of faith, we don’t just have to try harder to not keep records of wrongs, or to live out any of these principles. Giving it your all is not the answer. Any gains you make will be slight and temporary. Real transformation happens when we live our lives yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12:1-2). Anything good in me is a reflection of Him. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. (John 15:5). The call is to live by the Spirit, ever yielding to His good, pleasing and perfect will.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Come up with whatever worthy fill-in-the-blank you want, being in step with the Spirit is the only way to truly live it out.