A Fig Tree?
During this season of Advent, we prepare our hearts once again for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. We remember His birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago–his first Advent–and we look forward to His return or second Advent. While it is our human tendency to rush ahead directly to the beauty and nostalgia of Christmas and forego the inner spiritual preparation, Jesus tells us otherwise. His instructions are to get ready, to straighten up and be alert, to keep watch, and to stay awake. We’re to live with expectancy….to be prepared, to choose to live with hope, receiving Him again and again and again, each and every day. Jesus encourages us with a parable:
“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21: 29-33 (ESV)
A fig tree is an ancient symbol of life emerging out of death. A fig tree looks dead in winter; gnarled, weathered, barren, but–after a season of waiting in dormancy–new life appears! In this parable, Jesus reminds us of His constant, transforming presence, of hope in the waiting.
This is where our inner work comes in: We need to enter the shadows–those places in our lives where all hope seems lost. Once we have acknowledged the shadows, with both our head and our heart, it is from that place that we can receive His love and the hope that we have in Him. He is our hope amid challenge. He is our light in the darkness. Jesus, the One who was, and is, and is to come, is Emmanuel, God with us. He is our Help from Heaven.
Hope is often confused with optimism and certainty, but the truth is, the future really is uncertain and some problems we face aren’t always solvable! In our lives, we will continue to face uncertainty, and quite honestly, we will probably experience unexpected or unwanted losses AND there will be new beginnings! In our active waiting, Jesus is bringing new life to us, each and every day.
So here are some questions to ponder:
- Where are the branches of your fig tree, or the branches of those you love, gnarled, weathered, and barren?
- Where in your life do you need Jesus?
- How can you open your heart to be more present to Him as you wait?
During this season of active waiting, Jesus comes to us again and again and again. May we choose to receive our Savior’s love and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. May we love our family and friends well, and may we care for others the way Jesus taught us.