Monday, November 22, 2010

figless moment

He was being unreasonable. It was not the season for figs.
I saw him coming towards me, that man, Jesus. And I knew who he was, for he had come that way many times before. Often there had been large crowds with him of people clamouring to hear his every word, jostling one another just to catch a glimpse of him, to touch him. Other times, especially during fig season, small clusters of men or women would stop to rest in my shade and eat my sweet fruit. I heard much animated discussion about him in those days. Truth be told, with all I had seen and heard, I ought to have known better, But when he came towards me, hungry, looking for figs off season, my reaction was two fold. I wanted alternatively to gather my leaves tightly around me to hide my barrenness and to wave my branches wildly at him in protest. How could he be so unreasonable? I was indignant and stung that he would curse me, so unjustly, for my fruitlessness.
But now as I feel the sap drying in me, my leaves curling in the withering heat of the sun, I know that I, not he, was wrong. Was it the season for dancing for the lame man who sat beneath my branches? In the day that Jesus bid him get up and walk, he could have protested, "But Lord, I cannot. I am lame." Rather, he looked t Jesus, obeyed and his legs were made whole.
It was not a season of seeing for the blind man who shouted "Son of David! Have mercy on me!" He had no power of his own to produce sight. But Jesus drew aside his darkness, just as he drew aside my leaves and the man went away seeing.
And what of the story I heard recounted over and over by pilgrims breathless with excitement; the story of that man, three days dead, whom Jesus raised with a word? Tell me this: in the stench of his own decay, bound in grave clothes, can a man hear? Surely of all the rest, he was least able to bear fruit at Jesus' command. And yet, today he lives.
And I die.
What do these men have that I did not? What enabled them to respond to their Maker (surely I knew it even before now, that He is Maker of all) when I did not? Like me, they had no ability of their own to produce the fruit which He commanded. And yet each one of then bore fruit.
It can only be one thing. They knew they were not the source of their own healing, their own fruitfulness. He was. And they looked to and trusted His power, not their own lack. They surrendered to His word, instead of (like me) defending their own weakness. It was He who created in them what they could not create; He produced for them fruit out of season They only bore it, the fruit of His making.
I see it now.
He could have done the same with me.
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (Jesus as recorded in John 15:4,5)

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