This boy reminds me of our grandson, Hadrian. Last November we took him and his cousin Hannah to an indoor pool with two water slides. Fred accompanied the seven-year-olds up, up, up the stairs to the top of the slides, only to find out that Hadrian was half an inch too short to slide down. After he and Hadrian watched Hannah enter the slide, they walked down, down, down the stairs while enthusiastic children ascended.
“I feel frustrated,” Hadrian lamented.
A few weeks ago we return to the pool. Hannah discovers the forty-eight inch marker on the wall at the bottom of the slide and presses Hadrian against it so she can measure him.
“You’re over the line!” she declares and they bounce and clap with glee. Then up, up, up they go with satisfied smiles on their faces.
I spend the next hour watching them climb up and slide down–over and over again. Each time they are spit out the end of the slide, they are ecstatic.
I know how Hadrian felt when he didn’t measure up. I often miss the mark and feel like I’m still paddling in the kiddie pool of life. As hard as I try, certain virtues remain out of reach. Then one day, something happens–an incident, a snippet of conversation, an insight in prayer, a kindness extended–and suddenly, that ripe virtue is within my grasp.
Thinking about it, as I wave to the kids at the top of the slide, I realize I couldn’t make it happen any more quickly than Hadrian could will himself to be taller. But, by God’s grace, it happened.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. — Galatians 5:22, 23 (NRSV)