The Fig Tree

Everyone grows, but not everyone matures. ~Kemi Sogunle

Soon after we moved to North Carolina, I bought fruit trees. We were the owners of a small section of an old farm, and I was anxious to remind it of its purpose.

I planted several apple and pear trees, a peach, a plum, and a fig tree. The fig tree died.

My husband didn’t like weed eating around all of these trees. In a moment of Jesus- imitation, I think the preacher cursed the fig tree.

In Luke 13, the people are trying to establish their safety in God’s kingdom based on their ancestry. Jesus offers them little hope. He tells the story of a fig tree.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” LK 13:6-9

The fig tree teaches us that we get a second chance, but nothing which only takes will survive, and there will be a limit to the second chances.

Is your trunk any stronger for the passing years? Do you open your Bible on Sundays but leave it resting on your bedside table every other day?

Maybe Spirit has been blowing spring zephyrs through your branches, but you’ve refused to bend in the breeze. Have you ignored the prodding to talk to the homeless man, invite your neighbor to dinner, or visit the nursing home?

Are your figs tough and pithy, unfit to eat? Has bitterness replaced your joy, hatred your love?

Take heart. There is hope. The gardener in Jesus’s story believes the fig tree can flourish with a little tender attention.

And Jesus believes it’s not too late for you.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV

Rocky Garden

Gardeners instinctively know that flowers and plants are a continuum and that the wheel of garden history will always be coming full circle. ~ Francis Cabot Lowell

My grandfather plowed the field that would be the extended family’s garden. It was across the driveway under the big pine where the swings sat untouched by children.

There was work to be done. No time for swinging now.

Every year we tilled the soil and picked up rocks. The rocks grew in the cold churning of winter; then in spring they burst forth unable to stay beneath the surface.

The rocks had to be removed in order to plant the new crop, to give the tender shoots sunshine and soil that would produce a great harvest. My job was to pick up the rocks and stack them in some fashion at the end of the field.

Spring turned to summer and the garden grew. Weeding and watering were followed by the harvest and canning. The seasons cycled on summer to fall to winter again.

Then spring rushed upon us with a new crop of rocks. No matter how many times we tilled the same garden there were always more rocks in the spring.

You think you’ve kicked the smoking habit, then the cold wind of unemployment blows your way and you light up again.

You manage to control your tongue at the community soccer game, but then that little rascal throws an elbow at your daughter and words fly out of your mouth like snow in a blizzard, blinding everyone in your path.

You succeed in paying off most of the credit card bill, but your favorite patient passed away and that little sundress will make you forget the snowbank of pain that is drifting higher against your chest.

Every winter brings more rocks, and every summer another opportunity to clear them out.

To everything there is a season . . . but summer is the most productive. Why not stack a few rocks this week?

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 NIV