Monday, July 13, 2009

The Fruits from a Spiritual Garden

I've always loved the passage about the fruits of the spirit Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Also from Matthew 5:16 Where Jesus was talking about false prophets: "By their fruit you will recognize them," and from
Matthew 7:17 "Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."

When I was growing up, the lessons about spiritual fruit tended to be talking about whether or not we were bringing other people to Christ with baptism and new Christians being our "fruits." And there was the fear that if we weren't producing fruit we would be pruned - not a pleasant thought! I've learned over time that the fruit that God is looking for is manifested in our lives. Are we loving? Joyful? Patient? When people look at us and our lives, do they see Christ living in us? Do they see His love, His Patience, his kindness, his faithfulness, his gentle touch?

A fiction or fantasy book that I read many many years ago had the concept that people lived on by how long their products lasted. The spirit of a carpenter that built a house would live on as long as the house still stood. The spirit of a lady who made a quilt would linger as long as her quilt lasted, etc. In some ways that is true - humans are visual and tactile creatures. When we see and touch things it can bring back memories of the person who was responsible for its existence.

When I was at Cade's Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Primitive Baptist church still has handprints on the ceiling from the workmen:

The wood was still green and the sap created lasting handprints where the workmen used their hands to hold the wood in place to hammer the ceiling panels in place.

The produce from my garden will be consumed. The pickles, frozen squash, and jam will only last for a year or so. Hopefully we will eat it all and enjoy it throughout the winter. It is possible that some of my photographs will be a lasting legacy to provide enjoyment for people beyond my lifetime. I have vintage photographs of my ancestors some taken over 100 years ago - they are precious to me as part of my family history. But new technologies can easily render my photos obsolete as it becomes possible to take photos with higher technology equipment or even three dimensional images. And there are many things that can damage or destroy photographs - fire, flood, hard drive failures, etc.

But the fruit of my spiritual garden will be long lasting - the people whose lives I've touched (for good or bad), the children I've worked with, the women I've taught, people who read my blog or my books . . . I can only live my life each day and trust that God will produce long lasting fruits or even eternal fruits from my simple, earthly endeavors.

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