“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” — Galatians 5:22-23
It’s a good thing they start sending out garden catalogs right after New Year’s. Garden catalogs get us through January and February.
At our house, we leave them lying out where we can see them. While snow drifts down outside the window, we page through the rose catalog and imagine the fragrances, the velvety petals — the colors! Blustery winds outside? We pick up the vegetable catalogs, and think about fresh salad ingredients, right from the backyard. Non-stop grey days? We page through catalogs featuring fruit trees and blueberry shrubs, considering whether or not we have room or the right kind of light or soil for them . . . maybe if we took down the raggedy pine tree way in the back . . .
Thinking about those catalogs the other morning, it occurred to me that we could have any of those things – or all of them! – just by phoning in an order, or going online.
And then I thought about that other type of fruit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and how great it would be if we could just phone a 1-555 number and place an order for that fruit, or go online to the www.fruitoftheHolySpirit website and type in exactly what we want.
Can you imagine? Order up some patience, and have it delivered by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow. Ask for a sample of kindness, and have it come by UPS, or perhaps goodness by overnight delivery.
Of course, real gardens are more than photographs or line drawings in a catalog, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit isn’t something we just order up. A real garden takes work; besides the dreaming and planning, there’s the digging, the planting, the cultivating, the harvesting.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit requires something of us as well: we must be committed to allowing God to work in us. He is the Gardener, dreaming and planning about how to bring out the very best in us, then digging, planting, cultivating, and harvesting the fruit in our lives.
That’s not as easy as dialing 1-555 HSF-RUIT. Having God dig around, uprooting negative habits and sin from our lives can be uncomfortable to say the least. And then, once the planting is done, He comes around again, cultivating, hoeing out those weeds, those distractions in our lives that keep us from loving Him and others fully, or keep us from wanting to be more like Jesus.
But oh, the harvest: the fragrance of love grows, gentleness blooms, patience blesses. We have access to self-control, goodness, and peace. Joy spreads across our lives. These things may not come from a brightly illustrated garden catalog, but they are available in every growing zone, in every season.
When they grow, we become a garden of holy fruit, where God delights in what He has grown.
— Holly Schurter
This column originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of The Parish Paper of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Emden, Illinois.