I dropped my keys in the toilet. No, really, I did. I was on the road and decided to stop to use the restroom. I went to flush, and my keys slipped out of my hands (why I was holding them in the first place is still beyond me). I immediately thought, “Oh gross,” and went to grab them, but before I knew it, they were sucked out to the river on the other side. I froze. I then raced out the gas station door and began to tell anyone who would listen that I flushed my car keys down the toilet, hoping someone had learned on Pinterest the magical way to retrieve them. Some laughed. Some gasped. Some told me the hard truth – I would never see them again. No problem, EXCEPT I was in a rental car, and all of my paperwork was inside. I left my phone in the car, and I didn’t know a single phone number from memory (at least not one that would be helpful). I was two hours away from home and couldn’t tell you what city I had stopped in. Panic came over me for a moment. I literally said the words, “I think I am going to freak out,” when I so clearly heard God say, “You won’t if you cling to the fruit of the Spirit,” to which I said in response, “WHICH ONE?” and heard, “patience.” If I cling to patience, I will be okay. I took a deep breath and made the mental decision that I would be patient. It was like my mind was going full speed ahead, and I intentionally put it back into neutral. I was able to start the process of getting help for both me and my stranded vehicle. I found a Mcdonald’s across the street and sat in that booth for THREE hours, periodically begging some stranger to use their phone. I was left with nothing to do, no phone, no to-do list, nothing. That is hard for me on a good day as I am highly active and thrive on productivity.
Detoxing from my phone in the middle of McDonald’s is not what I had in mind that day. But I DID IT. I kept not only my peace but joy the entire time. I prayed, dreamed, and thanked God for whatever I could think of. I covered my family and mentally thought through some situations that needed my attention. I dare say the three-hour break felt good. I realized how serious God was when He told me to cling to patience. It wasn’t the flushed keys, locked car, or no access to my phone that would have robbed me of my peace as I can handle all of those; it would have been partnering with impatience that would have wreaked havoc on my peace and joy. Clinging to the fruit of His Spirit was my lifeline. I was enjoying the fruit of growing and handling challenging situations with such grace and thanksgiving. I was so thankful for the opportunity to grow in patience (James 1:2-4). But by nighttime, I began to feel condemned. The entire time I was in McDonald’s, two children were destroying the place. Their mom was a worker, and these two kids offended nearly every customer I watched enter. They were running on the tabletops, squirting ketchup in their mouths, playing with the dispensers, letting the soda fill a cup, and then emptying it over and over. They were throwing ice everywhere, wasting lids, throwing a wet diaper on the tables, grabbing food from the kitchen (no kidding), and making sculptures out of the foam hand sanitizer at the door. Another boy came to join them when his mom started her shift, and the chaos was offensive. I began to feel condemned that I didn’t do more to love them or reach out to them. We were all stranded together. Perhaps I could have played games with them or gone over the $1 store to get them some coloring books or cards to play with. I could have prayed for them (one clearly needed deliverance). Did God allow for my mishap, knowing they would be there so He could use me? I was so sad that I had been so focused on my battle that I didn’t do something about theirs. Now that I am back home, it is easy to see that I could have brought love and joy to their worlds that were out of their control, too. I felt like I had failed and began to feel so selfish. But then Holy Spirit began to minister to me and reminded me that I am on a journey and God was teaching me something about patience that day and that I was faithful to the lesson before me. It was the enemy who came to condemn me for not doing more. It was the voice of the accuser who said I failed. It was condemnation that was trying to rob me of my victory. Condemnation and accusation do not get to speak to me or lead me. I am HIS, and He alone is the author of my story. I share that example of how we can so easily partner with the enemy to allow ourselves to be condemned for not doing enough when God is so pleased and proud of us for our response to HIM. Legalism says we have to ACT like Him. But being Sons and Daughters means we are on a journey of learning to BE like Him. This is called transformation. It is a journey where our mind, body, and spirit are being transformed into His likeness. Shake off the finger-pointing slime of shame and accusing voice that gets your eyes off what GOD is doing in your life and celebrate the joy of learning and maturing through the lessons He has for you today. I AM ON A JOURNEY!!