I had only been married a year, when I learned a valuable lesson. Actually, I had already learned it many years prior, but sometimes in the busyness and distractions of life, we have to be reminded. It’s so easy to lose focus of what really matters in this life. Is it because we’ve lost sight of what’s coming in the next life?
My husband Steve and I lived in a rental home in town our first year of marriage, until our landlady decided she wanted to move back in, so we had to pack up and move out. We borrowed a friend’s pickup, and thus began several round-trips to our home in the country. I had taken special care to pack one of our boxes with some of my treasures that were rather fragile. I had planned to make sure this box made it to the inside of the truck, but in all the chaos of moving, I lost track of it and it ended up being packed in the bed of the truck. Just before leaving on our first round, I noticed Steve had not tied anything down; no tarp, no rope – nothing. When I questioned him about this, he assured me that the boxes were so tightly fit together that nothing could possibly wedge loose.
We had only driven a few miles down the Interstate when Steve happened to look in the rear-view mirror and uttered the fateful word, “Uh-oh!” I turned around in time to see that a box had dislodged and was flying through the air. With a sinking feeling we watched as it crashed in the middle of the road and shattered into a thousand pieces. It could have so easily smashed into a passing vehicle and caused an accident. We quickly stopped and jumped out of the truck to retrieve the pieces before any traffic happened by. One glance at the broken fragments and my heart sank: it was my box of treasures! I stood in the middle of the road holding a fragment of an antique plate, and I just started crying. I could tell it was a piece of the plate that had been gifted to us for our wedding by my step-father’s family. It was a family heirloom that had been in their family for over a hundred years. The plate was hand-painted with beautiful white roses, and I cherished it. I couldn’t even bear to look at anything else, and made a quick run back to the truck, still crying, and leaving Steve to clean up.
Upon arriving at our new home, I got out of the truck and just started walking. At that point I wasn’t in any mood to speak to my husband or even help unload the truck. I think I must have been gone well over an hour, walking country roads through the cornfields. By the time I returned home, I had cried a bucket of tears. Our new neighbors had come over to introduce themselves, and I was a hot mess with swollen eyes. They probably wondered what kind of people were moving into the neighborhood. By this time, Steve had placed the contents of the shattered box on the dining room table. I began sifting through the pieces. Everything was totally destroyed…priceless wedding gifts, cherished mementos, high school and college graduation gifts. I couldn’t help but chide myself for placing so many of my treasures all in one box. After all, everyone knows “not to place all of your eggs in one basket!”
Then the most amazing thing happened. I noticed a flat box laying on the table. I opened it up and discovered it was another wedding gift, another plate, only this plate had survived the crash without so much as a crack or a scratch. It was absolutely the ONLY thing that had survived. It was a beautiful Lenox plate with the design of fruit around the rim. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t help but wish the beautiful heirloom plate had survived instead of this one.
Three days went by and I continued to MOPE. That’s the best way I know how to describe it. (Not a pleasant time for my poor husband.) I decided I would go for another walk and try to sort things out. Why had it been MY box of treasures that had become dislodged from the back of the truck? I found myself puzzled about the fruit plate. How and why had it survived? If I had been able to select ONE item to keep, it would have been the gorgeous hand-painted rose plate. I am happy to say that on my walk that day I had an epiphany. All the shattered, broken pieces came together and I finally understood what had happened, and why. On my walk I was reminded of a verse of Scripture found in John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” That was it! The sign of the FRUIT! The fruit plate was God’s gentle reminder to me to hold on lightly to those things I considered my “treasures.” Yes, they were all beautiful and held great sentimental value, but I would never be able to take them with me into the next life. However, the things that are of true value, WILL follow you into the next life. These are the things the Scriptures refer to as your “fruit.”
Are you finding yourself wondering what the “fruit” is in your life? Let me just mention a few things that it is NOT. It is not your education, your awards, your beautiful home or fancy car. It is not your rich apparel, bank account, stock investments, world travels or accumulation of “stuff.” If you can’t think of any fruit in your life, it’s time to take stock. What exactly are you going to take with you into the next life? Remember, that life will last for eternity. Maybe it’s time to take a walk through the cornfields and sort it out. If you have no cornfields around, a walk through the mountains, along a beach, or city street work really well, too. In closing, I will admit, it is nice to enjoy these “little earthly treasures” we are gifted with. They do bring us a lot of joy. We just have to remember to hold on lightly, and when it’s time to release them, we need to let go graciously and gratefully.
A very short time after this experience took place in my life, I happened to share this story at a ladies Bible study. The following week, one of the ladies presented me with a special gift she had made for me – a beautiful hand-painted china plate of white roses.
I cherish this gift and it has hung on the walls of our home, along with the fruit plate, ever since. They are a silent reminder that we are called to “bear fruit,” and it is a fruit that will remain after all our earthly treasures are gone.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23