I had never flown on an airplane that I could remember when I boarded the Delta flight to Panama City, Panama in February of 1991. The purpose of the visit was to work with a mission team to help the indigenous of El Francis build their church building. As we taxied to the runway I was getting pretty nervous, but I was somewhat comforted when I found out the man sitting next to me was a 25 year employee of Delta Airlines. I ask him something about the safety of the plane we were on, and his answer to me was, “You don’t have to worry about the flight. It’s the safest way to travel on earth.”


This really helped me feel better as our giant metal airship began roaring down the runway. That is until he followed up with, “Where you need to worry is on takeoff and landing!” He went on to say, “Ninety percent of all airplane crashes happen in the first 60 seconds of takeoff!” Then, and I am not stretching the truth even a little, he grabbed both armrests, thrust his head back, and started counting out loud, “ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR…” I almost peed myself!


Fast forward 21 years as Greg Sweatt (Phoenix Roasters Founding Partner) and I were being escorted by Lorenzo and Elias Caballero to tour their coffee farms in Boquete, Panama. As we drove north on the Panamerican Highway from David (pronounced Dah-Veeed) things started looking vaguely familiar. That’s when we saw the little white church I helped build 21 years prior. Since I was on the crew that helped lay the foundation you could see my shock that the building was still standing! Seriously, I was thrilled as I recalled all the people that helped us work the indigenous volcanic soil to get the foundation level and complete.


When I left El Francis and the Rose of Sharon Baptist Church all those years ago, it did not occur to me that God might have been planting a seed in me that would come to harvest almost half of a life-time later. Funny (and when I say “funny” I actually mean “unbelievable!”) that I am so short sighted about the things that truly matter in this life. Most of us can remember our parents or grandparents throwing cliches around like, “Good things come to those who wait,” or “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” These cliches came to be because they were timeless truths which were passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately timeless truths seem to lose their power the more we say them.


I wonder if this is why timeless truths like “The Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22-23) are taken for granted by me and maybe by you too. You see, the fruit of the Spirit, like actual fruit take time to grow. In addition it takes attention and participation on our part. Granted, only God can make the sun shine and the rain fall, but we should be actively tilling the ground, planting the seed, weeding the garden and fertilizing the plants as they grow. So if it seems that God is waiting to give you His blessing it might be because the fruit is not yet ripe and would cause you to pucker if you tried to eat it now. So wait.


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