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Fruits of the Spirit in My Honda Civic

By Courtney Shenk, SEND Ministries Assistant Director

What should a staff person in a mission organization want to share with the reading world? A plea for more workers? Sometimes. A story of souls getting saved? On occasion. But what does this missions worker want to share about? Commuting.

Initially, the topic of commuting came up in my mind because I was tired of thinking about “spiritual” things so much. As you can imagine, spiritual matters come up frequently in a short-term missions department, but I’m the kind of person that needs down-to-earth practicality sometimes. I need something tangible that I can apply to everyday life, and what could be more practical than commuting every day to work? The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that my commute to work has had a very profound effect on my spirituality.

Well, shoot. It appears as though life is inescapably spiritual.

Now, there is certainly a sense in which a person could over-spiritualize any subject, and I don’t want to do that. But so far, my tendency has been to under-spiritualize my time in the car, and mentally separate my commute from my relationship with God instead of incorporating them. The fruits of the Spirit don’t seem to make their way into my little Honda Civic each day.

It’s almost as if driving is some sort of in-between world. I’m not at my job where I know I need to love people, be selfless, and serve, for example. I’m also not at home, school, or church where there are other people that I need to love and other ways in which I need to serve or be selfless. When I’m in the car I’m surrounded by a bunch of nameless, faceless people in vehicles, and if you happen to see the face of someone it usually isn’t for a good reason. Essentially, I’m in traffic purgatory.

You see, it’s not that I don’t have the fruits of the Spirit–they are in a nice basket waiting for me to collect them at my next destination. There’s a basket of fruit at work, at home, and at church, but there’s just not a to-go basket yet. But where do the fruits of the Spirit and driving even intersect?

Let’s start with the fruit of love as an example. Loving my enemies doesn’t seem like a pertinent command when there are cars that go zooming past me only to cut in at the front of the huge line of people waiting to exit. They deserve every angry glare or gesture they get!

And yet, there are real people in that car that are every bit as loved by God as I am.

What about the fruit of joy? Encountering a traffic jam can be an immediate joy killer for me. I just want to get to wherever I’m going, and I’m not happy that this traffic jam is setting me back. Not to mention, there is nothing good on the radio, and the roads are bad. There is a lot to complain about at 7 a.m. on I-70. And yet, the Bible commands us to rejoice in the Lord always; let his praises be continually on our lips.

The fruit of peace is an interesting one to think about. Not only can traffic disrupt my inner peace, but it can also affect the peace between my husband and me. I’m tired of being in the car, and probably stressed as well, so then I get short and agitated with him over nothing. Then we both get disgruntled, and it turns what could have been a pleasant ride with my husband into a prickly mess.

And yet, the Bible says that the peacemakers are blessed, and shall be called children of God; it says that we should strive to live peaceably with everyone; it says we should seek peace, and pursue it.

I won’t even go into the fruits of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I think you’ve got the idea by now. So, what am I to do about this fruit deficiency?

A place I try to start with is prayer. I know, so original. Original or not though, when I remember to pray it has truly helped me handle my regular commute with grace and patience. Sometimes I just pray silently, but when I’m by myself I like to pray aloud as though Jesus is in the car with me. Doing this often helps me take my eyes off myself and my problems, and brings to mind the things in life I can be thankful for.

You may not have a long commute, and your car rides may be overflowing with peacefulness and joy, but maybe you have your own “car” that needs more of the Holy Spirit. Maybe there is another area of your life that could use a bit more of the fruit flavor.

Will you bring the fruit to your car?