faithfulness & fig trees.

I was having a hard time one morning.

Not abnormal, I know. Mornings are rough for a lot of people, and there’s this stereotypical “Everyone hates mornings” thing because no one wants to stop sleeping or go to work or school or do anything in general.

But my hard time that morning wasn’t due to a “I don’t want to go to work” mood. Nothing had been physically done or said to me in order for me to be having a hard time, but my mind was in overdrive, and my soul was not at peace.

During this time, I was battling with surrendering some things to God. My flesh was trying to convince me that whatever I had planned, whatever I wanted to happen should happen. Even as I type these thoughts out, I know this is ridiculous; I know that I am where I am not because of what I have done or because of the plans I have made. Knowing is easier than living it out though. I truly do not deserve to be where I am today, and I definitely didn’t feel like I deserved it this morning as I battled with surrendering. I praise God that His love is not based on a deserving scale.

I could feel my flesh gripping onto what I wanted, what I thought I needed, all the while, my spirit knew that letting it all go was what I needed to do. I’m not trying to make this a cheesy Christian narrative for you; this wasn’t a “devil on one shoulder, angel on the other shoulder” moment. When I say that this was a struggle, it was a struggle. In fact, it still is. Unfortunately, one or two battles between the flesh and the spirit over the same thing is not enough for my stubborn self to get it together. I thank God for His grace, mercy, and patience.

I texted Bria, knowing that if I was going through this I couldn’t stay silent; I was in need of some prayer, some encouragement, and had to cry out for help. And during our conversation, I thought of the events that had occurred in the past weekend in Orlando – the murder of Christina Grimmie, and many others at Pulse – and how many people would wake up this morning like I had, only they had lost a brother, sister, cousin, friend, son, daughter, the list goes on. And thinking about them made me realize just how selfish I was being, sitting on my bed wavering about whether or not I should open my clenched fist and say, “Okay, God, take it.”

Now, I will not say that my struggle was/is not legitimate because it is. But thinking about that tragic-filled weekend gave me some major perspective. Who was I to not surrender to God when He had woken me up this morning, given me the peace of knowing that no one had invaded my home to harm my family during the night, blessed me with a best friend who cared enough about me to hear me cry about the same temptations for the up-teenth time? My flailing seemed fickle compared to the bigger scheme of things – there were people who died not knowing the Lord as their Savior. Eternal separation from God, y’all. That thought made that little battle of mine stop in its tracks.

And you know what it made me think? I do not have the time to sit here, and question whether God’s plan for me is right or not. I know the answer, I just need to admit it and seize this day because it was given to me. Life is short; I’m not guaranteed tomorrow or, heck , the next hour. So, am I gonna waste my time, or do what I can to live in daily faithfulness today?

“You just have to interact with life. You gotta ask yourself, ‘How can I be faithful today?’ ” – Bria

I owe the phrase “daily faithfulness” to Bria because she’s literally said it to me over a dozen times when I’ve come to her for advice with all sorts of different situations. Shoot, she got an image of daily faithfulness tattooed on her leg recently (it’s so LEGIT). Asking God to give you the strength and willingness to live faithfully today seriously changes how you live. I mean, how many times have you thought about what’s going to happen this week? I’m guilty, I’ve already thought about what’s going to happen next month!

But if you stop and embrace each moment of the day, and ask yourself how, in that moment, you can faithfully live to serve the kingdom of God, your whole view of life is changed. Whether it’s taking the extra two minutes outside to wash the sand off your feet before you go into the house because you know your mom hates sand being tracked into the house, or spending that extra five bucks so a friend can enjoy a drink from Tybean with you.

I don’t want it to seem like I slapped a “daily faithfulness” band-aid on my problem, and as I type this, I’m “all better,” and my hands are willingly open and up in total surrender. Because, c’mon y’all, I’m human – it ain’t that simple, unfortunately. Some moments in the day are easier than others. There are times I feel God’s presence truly getting me through my day, and there are times He feels distant, and completely out of reach. And I know that simply writing this blog post isn’t going to make living daily faithfulness any easier.

Anyone Remember the Fig Tree?

You know what really struck me in all this? Scripture. I read a passage in Mark 11 the morning I was having a rough time that, normally, I would have just read without thinking twice about it. Only this time, I was genuinely curious as to what was really going on.

Anyone remember the fig tree?

Some of you do, and you know exactly what I’m talking about, and that’s awesome. I truthfully only remember the lesson from the fig tree, which has the passage about having faith in God:

“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, i f you have anything, against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses.”

Yep, that’s familiar. But what about the fig tree?

In Mark 11:12-14, Mark describes this fig tree that Jesus approaches so He can eat its fruit because He’s hungry. He gets to it, and there are tons of leaves on the tree, but no fruit. Jesus’ reaction?

And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And His disciples heard it. (v. 14)

Whoa.

From the surface of this text, it seems that Jesus is just upset that this tree didn’t have any fruit on it for Him to eat, so He decided to curse it. Well, we all know that Jesus knows everything – surely He knew that the tree wouldn’t have any fruit on it. And He would use this fruitless tree as a lesson to teach the disciples.

Now, I couldn’t remember ever diving into this passage of Scripture to try to find out the meaning of this fig tree, but that morning, I decided to. And this is what I read and learned.

***Disclaimer: What I’m about to write does not explicitly come from the Bible, but it did come from some commentary footnotes that my Bible had on this passage.

Normally, when fig trees have leaves, it signifies that there is also fruit on the tree. Yet, the fig tree that Jesus approached had only leaves, no fruit. So this fig tree was pretty deceiving; the leaves of it told people that it had produced something, when really, it hadn’t.

I have to quote this footnote, it just jarred me when I read it that morning, and it still jars me now: “Here, Jesus cursed the tree for its misleading appearance that suggested great productivity  without providing it. It should have been full of fruit, but was barren. The fig tree was frequently an OT type of the Jewish nation, and in this instance Jesus used the tree by the road as a divine object lesson concerning Israel’s spiritual hypocrisy and fruitlessness.”

This whole fig tree passage wrapped up all the thoughts I’d been thinking that morning. Beginning with the war within myself, then realizing the time I’d been blessed with, reminding myself of the daily faithfulness I’d been called to, and finally seeing what I didn’t want to be – a fig tree with leaves but no fruit. I don’t want people to see me as a Christian on the outside, but see no fruit being produced in my life. I want to be productive in my faith (sounds like daily faithfulness to me!).

That morning, as hard as it was in the moment, truly changed the way I thought about how I’m living during the day.

Every day brings its challenges and victories, and whatever may come, I want to be productive in my faith. Producing daily faithfulness. Not wasting any time because, even though it feels like I have all the time in the world, I’m not guaranteed that.

Two things I know to be certain:

  1. I’m still going to have hard mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights. In revealing these lessons to me, the Lord has equipped me to handle the hard times a little better. Doesn’t mean I’ll handle it perfectly every time; I’m still human, still fallen. But because I believe that Jesus died for me and rose again, I can live in the freedom of His forgiveness.
  2. Whether I do or don’t successfully live out daily faithfulness, I can be certain that my God is faithful, and that He cares for me, and will not abandon me in this process.

 

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