God, as I read Your word I am reminded of Your promises.
If I abide in You, You abide in me. As I seek You, I find You.
May I be rooted in Your word and in Your ways forevermore!
Series: “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”
Have you ever set out to plant a garden? You’ve gathered supplies, chosen the plot of ground, purchased the plants or seeds you hope will grow – and you dig. Yet even though you have done all the right things to plan and prepare the place for your harvest to abound – somehow you lose interest in it’s possibilities before the seeds take root and sprout up. So often we begin new journeys, start new projects, or commit to end bad habits only to succumb to outside pressures that quickly distract us from those goals.
Building a strong and lasting faith is no different than committing to a new way of doing something. Our relationship with God needs careful tending. Trusting Him, knowing Him and truly following Him are all important. How can we trust God if we don’t know Him? How can we follow Him if we don’t read His word and understand how to begin? Do we struggle because it takes time? Because it is difficult? Maybe we are busy doing other things? Have we been hurt by others so severely that even the thought of surrendering control to the Lord is unthinkable?
For most of my life I was content with a mediocre – even below average – faith walk. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a walk. It was more like a slow crawl or even a sit. Reading my bible would have been a shock to most, and I certainly would not have done it with zest. My one hour weekly encounter with God would have to suffice. And some weeks, well let’s be honest, He might not have even gotten the hour.
So when did my relationship with God become precious to me? I wish I could pinpoint a certain mountain-top experience that would make it obvious for you. But I cannot. There was no light flashing, thunder rolling, voice booming moment. Just a yearning for something more. More peace, more love, more kindness, more…then I finally realized it was a “person” and not a “thing” that was missing. It was Jesus I needed, and although it took longer than I hoped – He waited.
This parable Jesus taught about the unfruitful fig tree feels more than real to me:
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.
If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.'” (Luke 13:6-9)
God wants us to be rooted in His love. He wants us to desire and seek Him. In order for our lives to be a reflection of Christ, to produce good “fruit,” we must actively participate in caring for our spiritual life. God’s word is alive and active, and when we plant it within ourselves deeply, much will be yielded. If we remain steadfast upon Him, we will not be barren vessels like this fig tree. We will flourish to overflowing!
Look at this parable again. Do you recognize that the owner of the garden is God? The caretaker, or gardener, is Jesus. This means the fig tree represents us as individuals. If we don’t stay connected, deeply rooted, in His presence and in our relationship with Him, we could be separated from God forever. Jesus is waiting for you to stop running and firmly and securely place your trust in Him.
May our seeds of doubt be settled, our questions be answered and our faith be placed in God alone. Place Him at the center of your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. He will multiply the harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control as you tenderly care for your faith.
In closing, please allow this scripture to guide you as you receive a complete picture of God’s amazing love and passion for you to know Him and follow Him:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:1-8)
May the roots of our faith reach deep into the living water of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Luke 13:6-9; Galatians 5:22-23; John 15:1-8; Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 31:7