“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” – John 15:16
Recently I attended the funeral of my mother’s first cousin Walter who had passed away at age ninety-eight, the last one of that generation in our family. Walter had a reputation for being quite a character at times with a head full of funny stories. One such story occurred just a couple of years ago when his pastor came by to visit and Walter shared with the him the eulogy he had written for the minister to read at his funeral whenever his time came, and that he could expect to receive in return two crisp one hundred dollar bills as an honorarium. But after scanning the essay Walter had written about himself the pastor slid it back across the table. “Walter,” he said appearing as serious as he could, “it’s going to take a whole lot more than two hundred dollars for me to tell those lies.”
Each morning as I routinely read the newspaper while having my bowl of raisin bran I almost always catch myself perusing the obituaries. (Maybe I’ve reached the age where I’m just checking to see if my name’s in there, which it isn’t of course – not yet anyway.) It fascinates me to read about what people have done with their lives and their accomplishments. They range from the seemingly mundane and ordinary to headline-making extraordinary, from simply being a quiet servant or raising a loving family to achievements that have changed the world. Almost all, though, have borne fruit in some way, fruit that will continue to produce more fruit; like Walter, a highly successful farmer and rancher who, along with his wife of seventy-three years, raised and nurtured a close-knit family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, while at the same time being a good neighbor, a good steward, and striving to build and sustain a better community so that others might enjoy a better life and a better world.
Each of us in our own unique way was created to bear good fruit, fruit that endures and produces more good fruit. When I read obituaries about people who have led good and productive lives, or hear first-hand testimonies about people like my relative Walter, it motivates me to examine my own life. Am I bearing fruit – fruit that will last, I ask myself? Thanks to those who have gone before for inspiring us to live like they did.