So, I lost it the other night. It was about 10:30 and I was in bed. That’s really early for me! I was super tired. I had just drifted off to sleep when I was awakened by this thudding noise. And yelling. When it didn’t stop, I dragged myself out of bed to find out what was going on. Evidently, child number 1 – I am not using pronouns to protect the innocent – child number 1 had turned of the wi-fi router to reset it. Said it wasn’t sending out much signal. Only child number 1 had turned it off without warning. Which unexpectedly interrupted whatever child number 2 was doing on-line at the moment. In response, child number 2 decided that banging on the door was the best way to express frustration with child number 1. Which child number 1 countered by standing in the middle of the kitchen and yelling at child number 2.
Let’s just say I wasn’t terribly sympathetic. I don’t have vast reserves of compassion on a good day. After being woken up, my compassion tank was empty. And truthfully, I’m pretty much done with this whole idea of wi-fi. Spending hours and hours on-line. Zooming and teaming and meeting. So, I did the only thing a responsible wise parent would do. I yelled. I yelled and then I yelled some more. And then just to drive home the point I yelled again. Just because I could. It wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say the longer this season of pandemic goes on, the lower my tolerance for the petty squabbles and minor interruptions of life.
Thankfully, we have a Shepherd who cares. In verse 5 of Psalm 23, David talks about God’s antidote to the irritations of life. “You anoint my head with oil.”
Phillip Keller was born in East Africa and spent his life in wildlife management. A man of deep, faith he wrote over 40 devotional books based upon his experience of being a shepherd. In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Keller shares that a shepherd cares for the sheep by putting oil on their heads. Turns out, summertime is fly time in sheep country. Warble flies. Botflies. Heel flies. Black flies. And Deer flies. They like to deposit their eggs in the damp membranes of the sheep’s nose. If they are successful, the eggs hatch in a few days to form small worm-like larvae that crawl up the sheep’s nose and burrow into its brain. Okay, I made that last part up. But they do burrow into the nasal cavity of the sheep and cause infection. And the sheep just have to take it! I mean, it’s tough to pick your nose with hooves!
Anyway, Keller says that an infected sheep will bang its head against trees, rocks, or brush. They will roll and thrash around in the soil. Sometimes they will go blind. It is only after the shepherd applies an antidote of oil and Sulphur to the sheep’s head that the flies will abate. And peace returns again.
Thankfully, we don’t experience the same kind of torment from actual flies. But we do know the annoyance of the little irritations that are a part of daily life. The petty squabbles and interruptions that become burning issues. Consuming us and leading us to bang our proverbial head against the wall. Especially during this time of isolation. We too need to be anointed with the oil of God’s Spirit. Not just once but repeatedly. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
In Luke chapter 11, it says – “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” And in John 14:15 it says – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth.”
In other words, we too can know the love and the peace and joy – not to mention the patience and the kindness and the self-control that comes from being in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. It is ours for the asking. In fact, Paul says that the Holy Spirit is already in you (1 Corinthians 6:19).
How is your tolerance for interruption? How well are you handling the petty squabbles? As this season of pandemic wears on, are your weathering the minor irritations? Or are you yelling. And yelling some more?
I pray that this week you will encounter an even greater awareness of God’s Holy Spirit in you. And that you will be filled with the love, the joy, the patience and the self-control that comes from being in the Spirit’s presence. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.