“. . .the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control . . .” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Only a month or so ago, her life was good. Nice family, busy with children, friends, and church. Her world was painted a summertime green, and the “Faith Storehouses” of her heart and mind were properly filled with a generous supply of the Fruit of the Spirit.
In an instant, a simple knock at the door, it seemed, and her whole world changed. A tornado of evil had roared its ugly path through her world, leaving in its wake a husband imprisoned, family destroyed, friendships imploded and nothing left but desolation and devastation as far as her eyes could see. Her Storehouses were torn asunder and laid bare, and she stands with her children, in shock, wondering what the future could possibly hold now.
Her friends began praying. Then I awoke in the dark of the night, with this prayer completely formed in my mind, tumbling out into my pillowcase. I began to scribble it all down . . .
Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Father, we beseech You on her behalf, to quickly begin the process of rebuilding and restocking her Storehouses.
PEACE – Father I ask that You please open Your own personal Supply House and pour Your Peace into her life. Yours is a limitless supply of this precious commodity and she will need to have her Storehouses filled with the fresh Fruit of Your Peace during this time of storm and famine.
PATIENCE – Surround her now, Lord, with friends who bring with them baskets filled with gifts of Patience, to help restore the Fruit of Patience that she will need in her Storehouses; bring people who will bestow so much Patience on her that she will always have plenty to draw from as the demands of this stormy life try to drain her.
KINDNESS – Oh, Lord, may the people in her life, and particularly, the women of her church family draw near to her and treat her with the juicy Fruit of Kindness. May they remember the many past kindnesses she has shown them and fill her Storehouses now with their own acts of Kindness, so that she will also be able to be kind even when faced with the most horrible unkind, insensitive words and deeds imaginable being directed at her and her family.
GOODNESS – And, God, I also humbly ask that You surround her and her children with GOOD people! Teach her children that the bad actions of their father do not and cannot reflect as badness in them. Convince them that they are Your GOOD creations. Do not let one atrociously bad act define their lives. Allow them to be Good children who become Good teenagers and grow into Good adults. Fill their lives with Good people who will teach them by example. Overflow their Storehouses with an eternal supply of Good, sweet Fruit that they can feast on even in times of deepest famine.
FAITHFULNESS – Our Heavenly Father, we know YOU are faithful. You have proven repeatedly that we can depend on You in any situation. I pray now that my hurting friend remembers this truth: that no matter what, she can draw from the vast supply of her Savior’s healthy Fruit of Faithfulness. Replace and multiply the seeds of Faithfulness in her heart, that she will always know she can walk faithfully with the One Who Remains Faithful.
GENTLENESS – Her Storehouses have always overflowed with this delicious Fruit. Now she stands in this desert not of her own making, fighting an overwhelming sandstorm with no end in sight. If she ever needed to maintain a spirit of Gentleness in her soul, it is truly now. So I ask, oh, Lord, that people will treat her and her children with a God-like Gentleness. I pray that her church family will begin to produce this particular Fruit in abundance, that they will dine on it and share it generously with each member of this devastated family, including her husband. I earnestly plead that the congregation of this little church will become renown for the very Gentle way they come alongside of this family to help them survive this horrendous swirling storm.
SELF-CONTROL – This is that one Fruit that all of us who are followers of Christ need to cultivate more of in each of our lives. We are all guilty of diverse sins of the impulsive desires of our inner selfishness. This hinders our relationship with You, Heavenly Father, and with others. Help each of us to produce a bumper crop of Self-Control Fruit in our own lives, so that You can better use us to influence the un-churched and unsaved whom You wish to reach through us. We have just been presented with a clear example of how any momentary lapse in judgment, even a few seconds of unguarded selfishness can lead us into total destruction. Let us uproot all of the lack of self-control issues that we have allowed to grow like dandelion weeds in our Spiritual gardens, and strengthen our resolve to live in a righteous manner at all times.
LOVE – Return us to the first Fruit of the Spirit that You listed in Your Word for us, Love. Back when the very first spades of soil were overturned in the little garden that was to become this thriving church body, the handful of Your laborers who began that work were dreaming of a magnificent, healthy, mature Vineyard that would someday yield enormous quantities of all of the Fruit of the Spirit, especially the Fruit of Love, all for the harvest in the Kingdom of the Master.
But, somewhere along the way, Satan crept in, as he always does in every church anywhere, and planted a few small weeds. The weeds of pretense, selfishness, pride, and ignorance began to sprout. Young believers took on leadership roles that perhaps they were not called to, or were not mature enough to fill. The church feasted on baby food and toddler treats while their worship became a raucous celebration of their own activity and deliverance instead of true adoration of the One and Only Great I AM. The people have good hearts and wonderful intentions and they love You dearly. You did send mature laborers to try to help them plow and grow, to show them the deeper truths in the meat of Your Word, but they chose instead to remain in a precarious self-made bubble of happiness, filling their time with singing, and dancing in the pretty trappings of pretend holiness. Satan sees this, and dances in their midst, spreading more seeds that could easily grow to eventually choke out all the good Fruits of this beautiful little congregation so full of potential.
Now some among them feign that this devastated family has not been living right there in their midst all along. Most have completely shunned the father, and some are virtually ignoring the mother and her little ones. Some have falsely proclaimed publicly that this family left their fellowship several years ago in order to protect their own reputation. Brush it out of sight, and they can continue on inside of their happy fantasy of their own Christianity. This is not LOVE.
Help them, Father, help them to grow, to begin to chew on the meat of Your Word. Teach them to be true disciples, learn how to train up new disciples, to don the whole armor of God, and to produce the fully mature Fruit of Your Spirit. Help those mature ones in their midst rise up and take the reins of leadership, and those that need to step back do so gracefully. You have shone a light in on their darkness, now help them to see that this is an opportunity to grow stronger and healthier as a body of believers. May they not to ignore the message You are trying to reveal to them. Open their eyes, their minds and their hearts to the Love Fruit lessons You are teaching them through the terrible crisis this family from within them is now in.
JOY – Allow this horrific tornado of destruction to become a blessing in disguise; grow a field of beauty in the devastation of the turmoil that will bring a sweet smelling bouquet of Joy Fruit to this destitute family, this entire church body, and even to the many incarcerated people in our county who need to learn of Your grace and find Your mercy. Allow all involved to be filled with the unspeakable Joy from Your Supply house and allow that Joyous Fruit to overflow like a melody from within each of us.
Lord, encourage the men of the church to begin to visit this one fallen from grace during his time of imprisonment, so that he will begin to receive a steady, even daily, flow of the fresh Fruit of the Spirit. Have them pray over him and anoint him with readings from Your Holy Word. He is a broken vessel that YOU can mend and use for Your glory. May he find his redemption by sharing his story with others until he becomes a beacon of Your Light and Hope to those now living without Hope and without Christ. May the men of the church encourage and assist him to begin living the rest his life in such a manner that God can mold him into a powerful example of a Truly Passionate Follower of Jesus and that he will bring many, many lost souls to the saving knowledge of Christ. Work such a mighty miracle in his life that his children will someday be able to be proud of their daddy once again. When he reaches the end of his life may he still hear Your voice welcoming him Home with the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) Oh, what magnificent JOY!
By cultivating these precious Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, may we each produce more abundantly than ever before and reap much harvest for Your Kingdom purposes. Holy Spirit, work in us to show us where the weeds in our own gardens lie hidden and help us to remove them so that they cannot harm our lives or our harvest.
Help us to keep this family protected with a deep mulch of prayer cover and continue to invest our own Spiritual Fruit into the lives of this woman and her children and yes, even into this man who has fallen so far into sin from where he ever intended to be, so that they, and all of us, can weather the storm and be used more fully for the work You have planned for us.
In Christ’s Name, Amen.