Yesterday, as I was driving to the expanse that is Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, I was taking some detours to drive along Historic Route 66. Google Maps apparently doesn’t know Historic Route 66 from Adam, so I was winging it. Somehow, I missed a turn (read: I was caught up in the wonder of a cutesy historical main street and not paying attention) and ended up in a sketchy part of town before getting on the wrong highway in the wrong direction. I knew I wasn’t in the right place because there weren’t any signs for my route; I just wasn’t sure how to get back to it (because no signs). I ended up backtracking to my missed turn, and when I got to the right place, it was peppered with signs for Historic Route 66 what seemed like every few feet.
That was when God very gently spoke: “There will always be signs.”
There will always be signs. For anything ready to give out. For anything out of place.
Even an absence of signs is a sign.
Early this morning, I was reminded of these words from Jesus, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Now, I understand from the broader context (Matthew 7:13-27) that Jesus is saying that you can see who His followers are by the lives they live (namely, lives that do the will of the Father revealed by the words of Jesus – vs. 21, 26). Still, a picture has persisted in my mind since I was a little girl of a wolf dressed in a sheep costume, harvesting thorns and thistles in his bushel basket.
Too often, we measure a disciple’s fruit by platform – views, likes, follows, and shares, to put it in social media terms. When that is our focus, we miss looking at what is in his or her basket, and that is where the incontrovertible evidence lies. What is in that basket has been harvested from whatever has been planted, whatever is growing.
Paul puts it another way in his letter to the Galatians, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
There are always signs. When in doubt, look in the basket, not at the person.