Friday, April 11, 2014

lessons from the fig tree, even today

Somehow I've managed to avoid figs for 31 years. I've had the "newton" version, but I can't recall ever seeing or eating a fig from a tree until last night.

We found these dried figs at Costco last weekend, and we pulled them out of the fridge for dinner last night:

One of the children nearly refused to eat them, and I joked that Jesus liked figs, so they must be good, which led us to read more about Jesus cursing the fig tree that didn't bear fruit.

It's such an interesting part of Scripture in Matthew 21:

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

I remembered this part very well, but I'd forgotten the lesson behind it until last night:

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21And Jesus answered them,“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” {Matthew 21}

When we read that last night I was struck by verse 22 so much. I ask, and often I don't know that I truly believe God will do it. I want to think I always do, but I know I waver in my faith, mostly because I'm afraid of being disappointed. I won't commit enough to believe He will do something like throwing a mountain into the sea. My "common sense" {i.e. lack of faith} tells me He likely won't.

I like to think I have faith- and I do know without a doubt that God will do His own will and that His purposes will stand, but asking Him for something specifically and believing He will do it? Do I ever do that? Honestly, I'm kind of scared of that.

I know that we are to ask in the name of Jesus- which means that we are not to be seeking our own will but His to be done {1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.}. And harboring sinful desires and asking God to fulfill my lusts or selfish motivation- that's not in the name of Jesus or the will of the Father, that's seeking after the good of my own name.

But if my heart is right with God, and I'm seeking after Him with my whole heart, and wanting to give Him my all... I believe God will give us the desires of our hearts {Psalm 37:4}. Not necessarily the fulfillment of our fleshly, discontent-driven desires {and we should pray He doesn't give us those!! Quail in the wilderness, anyone?}, but that He changes our fleshly desires into His perfect desires in our heart. No longer do we long for sinful things- we long to please Him, and that in itself is a testimony to the work that God has done in our lives. There is no good reason outside of the Holy Spirit that I should want to obey God, you know? It's crazy.

But in an effort to avoid a prosperity/self-seeking kind of theology, I wonder if I swing too far in the other direction to lacking in faith by not asking for His help specifically. He already knows what I need, and I can trust Him with my whole heart to provide it. He will provide a Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf! He gave me His Spirit to dwell within me! He will lead me in the way I should go. He will guide my heart and my desires. I can always trust Him with everything.

Will He give me a serpent if I ask for fish? He promises to give me Himself- His Holy Spirit when I seek Him! He provided my sinful self with the Holy Spirit- why do I not trust Him fully?

Luke 11:
9And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11What father among you, if his son asks ford a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So many times I don't have faith because I am not trusting in His goodness. Why? Why am I afraid God doesn't love me that much that He will provide for what I need? He will give me the desires of my heart through the Holy Spirit. When I'm not trusting Him I'm not relying on the power of God- I'm relying on my own understanding.

I can only guess I hold back part of my heart because I don't have the faith I need to trust He is who He says He is, and He is good. He is always good, and I need to have faith in Him and His good work in every part of my life.

Oh, you guys.

He still speaks through the fig tree today.

Last night I laid Zane in his bed in his room {for the second time ever} at 9 and he woke up at 12 restless, despite my feeding him and trying to calm him down over and over.

As I leaned over his crib, I imagined facing yet another night with a sleepless baby, and I started praying- and as I was praying I remembered the fig tree from dinner. My weak {wimpy} prayer went something like this:

Lord, if you can curse a fig tree and make it wither like that, surely making a baby sleep through the night is not too hard of a thing for you? You made this baby, and you know how to make him sleep- I believe in you- help me believe that you will do it- help me to have faith that you will answer.

I had no doubt He could do it, but as I prayed I felt He would do it because I believed in Him, and He knew what I needed. Not to my own credit, by any means, because I could tell my mind was tempted to go back to doubting that He would. I am really good at wavering when left to myself.

So Rob scooted me out of the room and took over, and I went to bed and thought something like watch God go and make him sleep through the night.

What do you think happened?

You already know, don't you? :)

At 8:30, I had to wake the baby up so Rob could get ready for work. My child has never slept more than a few hours in his whole life. And he slept 8.5 hours straight.

Who is our God? 

Does He not delight in giving His children good gifts?? 

He certainly must!! I was amazed to see this on the clock this morning as I grabbed my coffee with the baby still in his bed:

Our Father provided abundant sleep for his daughter in the most miraculous way last night. And He provided both the faith and the blessing. I'm in awe of Him. It makes me cry like a baby to think of how faithless I am and how faithful He is still.

The Word of God is living and active, and our God still displays His glory and power in miraculous ways, today.

I never really understood why Jesus cursed an out of season fig tree. But the whole thing wasn't about a tree or its lack of fruit necessarily- according to Jesus, it was a lesson about the disciples' faith, and even my faith, 2000 years later.

Sleeping through the night was my mountain to be thrown into the sea. It seemed impossible just yesterday. 

Yet, with the tiniest, weakest bit of faith He did something huge in my life. I don't deserve that good gift, and yet He provided abundantly for me. His love for me is incredible, and the power of His Word is never lacking, and it reaches so much further than I can even comprehend. 

His Word is alive and powerful today. Not just then. 


Even thousands of years later-- our God is still working miracles through fig trees. 

p.s......thank you for praying.  :)

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