Can I tell you a little story about a fig tree?
There is a fig tree I walk by nearly every day. Its branches held so much fruit all through the long, hot summer. In fact, some of the branches would bow because they were so full of fruit. Often, the owner would come, examine the tree, pick the fruit that had ripened and fill up his tiny little basket. And despite his best attempts to encourage passers-by from sampling, some of his fruit ended up in the hands of a very curious toddler…and I’m sure mine wasn’t the only one.
Fig season is now past, yet some figs remain.
A few weeks ago, I noticed something very interesting. It stopped me in my tracks as I stood in awe in front of that fig tree. Many of the remaining figs that sat on the branch were tiny, hard and probably not very good for anything. BUT a few of the figs appeared to have continued to suck the sap off the branch. These figs grew so full that they split wide open, straight through their skin. It struck me because they looked so vulnerable there on the branch (and beautiful at the same time)—split open, vibrant pink fruit and tiny black seeds exposed to the elements and the eye.
I noticed that it was an odd combination of two things that caused those beautiful figs to split wide open; drinking the sap of the tree and their position in the sun.
I thought about my own position in the Son…the season that He has me in; tucked away, drinking the life-giving sap of His presence.
Sometimes it is easy to look around and see others being noticed and used for their ripe fruit…sometimes it is easy to get anxious. But if we remain—if we are steadfast and faithful to the season He has called us…if we continue to drink the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit and keep our hearts fixed on the Son, He will naturally, in His perfect time, expose all the beauty He has placed inside.
I asked the Lord what would happen to all those seeds that were now exposed and looking so vulnerable. The fruit was obviously no longer meant for human consumption. It was now ready for a more ultimate task.
I closed my eyes and I could see the dying fruit releasing its seeds, the wind carrying them onto the field below. No longer consumable, but now reproducible.
Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone…but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Can I be really honest? I sometimes feel the pull to leave the season of hiddenness He has called me. There are times I want the passerby to notice what I am doing—I want to be that fig that stands out as ripe and is picked by man for its beauty and fullness.
There is this unseen and unspoken pressure on the mission field to GO and DO and to make sure it is loud enough for everyone to see and hear…and satisfaction is just a Facebook post away. I can take one look at the needs around me and feel the sting of pressure to just do something…anything. Much of that sting comes because I love people (and that’s a good motivator), much of it because I love Jesus (and that’s a good motivator)—but there is a remnant of sting that comes from a place of striving and wanting to be seen, not of rest and yeildedness to what He is asking me to do.
God has been so faithful to remind me that my season right now is one of hiddenness—it is one of becoming comfortable in knowing His love and of being found in Him. And more than anything it is a season of learning to find identity in ministering to the Lord, first and foremost, and from THAT place, being able to minister to others. My season is one of remaining in loving obedience and contentedness.
And can I tell you something? Somewhere in it all, the Lord is expanding my capacity to love others by showing me the beauty of His unmerited love towards me. Just like the fig that remained on the branch and filled itself beyond its normal capacity, Jesus is miraculously filling me with Himself in such a special way. He is bringing me to a place where I am learning what it looks like to love vulnerably—to give love from a place of confidence in the One who fills to overflow and loves without calculation. I am learning to love others with my eyes fixed on the One who loved them ALL with His life.
One of my favorite verses…one the Lord speaks over and over to my (sometimes anxious) heart is this:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15)
Anxiousness, striving and selfishness are all tired acts of the soul that His rest will silence. His rest brings a certain stillness of heart. I am learning quietness of heart is consecrated. Quietness is strength. Quietness is remaining, with confidence, in the life of Christ and receiving all that His Spirit is doing. It is a place of ultimate life and ultimate movement because it is the place of ultimately abiding in Him. And everything that comes from a place of quietness has eternal value because it is full of the reproducible life of Christ.
Never underestimate a season of being unnoticed by man. Cling to those seasons because HE is doing something great…because He is noticing how we remain and He is working thru a yielded and obedient heart. That’s the heart that becomes reproducible.