A precious and still vivid memory of my grandparents’ house is a string of small decoupage plaques on a dark green velvet ribbon hanging on the thin strip of wall dividing the living and dining rooms. On the plaques were 9 simple words, painted in beautiful script – the fruit of the Spirit!
My grandparents lived a simple life. Their home was clean and neat and inviting, but far from extravagant. There were only a few special things that decorated their walls – so we noticed them! I stood in front of those little plaques on that green velvet ribbon often, trying to soak in the values Grandmom & Granddad held in such high esteem and lived out in front of us! Two large, black leather-bound Bibles sat together on the coffee table, well-worn and ready for daily reading together. My grandparents spent intentional time in God’s Word together, learning what mattered to Him. It was always their desire to reflect our Savior’s heart, His character.
From my earliest memories, being in my grandparents’ home was always a joy. It was never harried, never tense, always orderly and quiet, always soft and respectful. Without any explanation, we knew that their commitment was to be faithful – to the Lord, to the work He had called them to do, to be a walking testimony of His grace.
My grandmother was also a prayer warrior! She never coined this phrase, but she lived it: “pray it, don’t say it.” Her words were few, but her prayers were many! She had confidence in the power of prayer. And I know that those hours at the feet of the Savior impacted her as much as the people she prayed for so faithfully. He was drawing her heart into rhythm with His own. He was cultivating these character traits and molding her to bear fruit in service for Him.
With a warm smile, I thought of those little plaques on that velvet green ribbon again as I read Amy Carmichael’s thoughts this morning:
“Before the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy, He loved me and chose me as His own (Job 38:7, Ephesians 1:3). Therefore today every spiritual blessing may be truly mine – the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience toward others, kindness, goodness (that sweetness of heart that was Christ’s), good faith, meekness, self-restraint. So that in the pressure of life I need never fail. And all this is to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6). The Lord give us to possess our possessions! (Obadiah 17)”
It is interesting to me that she called them the “fruit” of the Spirit (singular!). Because of His grace, ALL, not some, ALL of them are given to us! My grandparents modeled for us how to live out God’s grace, with an overflow of the fruit of His Spirit in their hearts and in their actions.
I don’t know whatever became of that green velvet ribbon or the beautifully scripted words it held, but I know God’s Word endures forever and the fruit of His Spirit is available in limitless supply! It is not as much something I can strive for as something I can open my hands to receive as a gift from God. These choice fruits are blessings from Him! May I reach for them and treasure them, knowing that as I give space for the Spirit to fill me with His character, His fruit can overflow from me too.
Just as the Lord chose my grandparents, He has chosen me. His desire is to draw my heart into rhythm with His, to mold my character to reflect His own. I am forever grateful for a legacy of faith in Christ and a Godly example to follow. And I know that my grandparents would say without hesitation, “don’t follow my footsteps, follow His!”