Monday, April 11, 2005

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Last night we had the most incredible April storm. It was beautiful. Lightning cut the darkness and rain watered the earth. This morning the colors are more vivid, the grass seems to have grown a foot—much to my husband, Neal’s, dismay.

A few years ago I remember watching Neal cut the first grass of spring while enjoying the light herbal fragrance of a new mown lawn. He was riding in high gear. Mowing isn’t his favorite task. With each swipe came dangerously closer to my heirloom fig plant—a shoot from my grandmother’s tree given to me after she died. I felt like part of my life had ended as well. A chapter forever closed. This sprout linked me to her and my childhood, something I could touch.

When we purchased property in the country, I planted my little fig sprout to give it a good start before we started building. Seemed like a good plan, but during the course of the building project a cement truck and a tractor ran over it, leaving only a stick surrounded by broken bricks. Surprisingly, it survived. To prove its valiancy it produced one fig.

Neal rounded the corner in full throttle

“Watch out for my tree,” I yelled.

“What? I can’t hear you over this mower,” he answered as he ran over my fig stick cutting it even with the ground.

Neal felt terrible, but not nearly as bad as I did. So much for my hold on the past.

Later that summer while Neal reenacted the Indy 500 on his riding lawn mower, I heard him yell,

“Honey, come here. Quick.”

My heart skipped a beat, my throat constricted. What happened? Had he turned the mower over on himself? I ran to the door, threw it open, and saw him standing where my tree used to be.

“You scared me spitless,” I said as I walked to where he stood.


I couldn’t believe what I saw. Sprouting from the ground was a tiny fig leaf. I thought my tree was dead. After all, for months no sign of life showed. But below the surface, the earth continued to hug my little tree’s roots, protecting and feeding them.

In the darkness, where I couldn’t see growth, its roots spread and grew deep in the soil. Even though it wasn’t yet a tree, a strong foundation was being prepared for it.

The lesson of the fig tree is things are not always the way they appear.
Just like last night’s storm, circumstances rage against us—destroying our dreams, blowing away any hope. Sometimes there seems to be nothing showing for our lives. Our prayers seem to go unanswered. But, that’s where we must cling to our faith! Deep in God, our dreams, our hopes, our future, is nourished and is growing deep in order to support what He is doing in us.

We must continue to cultivate by reading and applying God’s word, by praying and listening, by serving others, knowing all the while that our lives are in good soil.