In reading through Mark 11, I was struck as I always am in this chapter by the story of the fig tree, a story I have found so completely confusing thus not one I have really prayed about or dwelt upon in my past. But, last week as I read through this chapter each day, I was forced to take this story into greater consideration which in the end made my push in wading through the gospels this year all the more rewarding. By the end of the week, I came to a meaningful realization of what Jesus was really doing as He looked for fruit on this tree during its non-bearing season and that is what I felt led to write about for my reflection on Mark 11.
First of all I have to ask you, have you ever found yourself in a season that you would consider “non-bearing”? Personally, I have had many instances in my past that I could classify as times when good fruit from my life had no chance for growth. To the farmer, those times are the cold seasons or the dry seasons – the times when the local plants do not have the nourishment or proper conditions to produce and yield. Yet, as Christians, we must look at these external conditions from a completely different perspective.
The Source of life, the source of nourishment for a Christian, is not from the conditions that surround oneself, but rather the Source from which one pulls – that is God. From Him all Christians have the ability to pull into themselves the resources needed when the conditions on the outside are considered good for the fruit of the Spirit to flourish AND when they are not. Our Source of nourishment is deeper and stronger than that which depletes us and ravishes us from that which our outer circumstances prove we must endure, and therefore if we choose to drink deeper and strive on that nourishment to not only produce fruit with ease during the “good” conditions, we also have the ability to produce fruit in the “bad” times when more resources are needed to fight the additional external conditions we may encounter.
Last week while our family was away on vacation, just like each week our family is at home, we had external conditions press upon each of us. Most of these conditions were very pleasant, being on vacation those conditions are usually much easier to come upon than when in the thick of things at home, but some circumstances we each encountered were very difficult. Thus, even on vacation, our family was confronted with the choice of digging deep to bear fruit or just drawing from the meager resources we were surrounded with to try and bear fruit on our own. In retrospect I saw many ways our family was able to produce fruit while the conditions were not ideal. Our teens had some very trying circumstances they were forced into in which they needed to endure and stand strong in their convictions, and it was wonderful to see them do so in opposition to the kids they had interactions with. On anther occasion, our entire family had the opportunity to bear fruit. Not many were watching us that evening, but to me the fruit bore that night was a delight to take in when some very ugly and rotten fruit could have been the product bore from the conditions we had to endure. In the end, there were a few who had been watching from the outside and we were rewarded for our endurance and willingness to bear the test the Lord gave us the ability to strive through and shine His light within.
The fig tree does not seem to make sense in this chapter until you realize how important the source is to the tree, and therefore how important the Source is to the Christian. In verses 23 and 24 of this chapter, Jesus says this:
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea.' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
In asking God for what we need to bear fruit out of season, we should go forward into ALL seasons and conditions with the expectation that the fruit we have asked for will be produced according to our need to do so and thus be the witness we know our Lord and Savior wants us to be, in season and most importantly out of season.
All this talk of fruit has me yearning all the more to get gardening and continue doing whatever the Lord sets in front of me – even though we came home to piles of snow in our yard that are pushing 10 feet! Producing fruit in the growing seasons and out, drawing from the Source who alone is all that is needed to allow His people to produce and grow for His kingdom and His glory, especially when those around know the season was not right to bear fruit but our lives produced anyways – to Him be the glory alone!