GUEST COLUMN: At a loss for words but not for figs
Sunday, 08 July 2012 by Mark Magnan
I was out of town part of the week (in Houston), during this time I received a note from the editor that due to the holiday that the press deadline was moved up. Being out of town and not near my regular keyboard made it even more of an issue to write something that made sense. I am used to my full size keyboard and monitor. But I really didn't worry much since I usually have a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head, apparently there is plenty of room in there. But as the deadline drew closer I was forced with the realization that I might not be able to grab a rational thought and organize it in a way that was suitable for a weekly column.
So I went over my week, the trip to Houston might be something to write about. But as anyone that has been to Houston knows, it is not that exciting. Just traffic and humidity. The mornings are much warmer there than they are here and with a lot more moisture in the air.
Pulling myself together I realized that my fellow columnists were in the same situation this week, having to find something to write about in a shorter time period than normal. But Joe (up above) has the entire Bible to provide him with inspiration for stories. All I have is my Texas heritage and my daily life, which at times is not all that exciting. Oh that I had the endless subject matter that others have in the form of God's divine word. But alas it is just me and the keyboard this week. By now the editor is probably thinking that I am going to ramble an entire column about not having anything to write about. But being diligent I have pushed myself to come up with something of substance to permanently put into print for the week.
I returned home to find my yard and garden in about the same shape as when I left, needing water and some attention. I did manage a tomato from the garden, so my efforts are paying off. I know that even though this was a small bounty, this piece of home grown fruit spent more time on the vine than any of the ones found in the grocery store. I enjoyed it knowing how much effort and care went into it.
My next stop was my fig tree. This tree was here when I moved in. It has produced figs in the past but they have never been able to ripen. Before I put up my fence the deer would eat as much of the leaves as they could reach, then eat the fruit well before it had a chance to become ripe. The last couple of years even with the new fence, the birds seem to pick my fig crop before I had a chance to enjoy them.
But this year I had a bumper crop of small green figs. I was just hoping that some of them would mature enough that I could enjoy a few. My patience has paid off. There were a good amount of figs that were changing color and becoming soft, a good sign they were ready to eat. Sure enough they fell off in my hand when I tired to pick them. The figs were just as I remember, not too sweet but with a unique flavor. Figs are often used as flavoring in other dishes, their distinct flavor adds a taste that other seasoning cannot.
My thoughts turned to the story in the Bible about when Jesus came upon a fig tree and when He found it had no fruit, He cursed the tree and it died. For a long time that just didn't make a lot of sense to me, and it certainly didn't seem like the character of Jesus to become angry over such a trivial matter. So there must have been another reason for Jesus intolerance of the fig tree.
I know when we get hungry we may not be ourselves, we might react differently than when we are satisfied and comfortable.
But if we look back to the beginning of the Bible we see how the fig tree was instrumental in man's life even then. When Adam and Eve had their eyes opened they realized that they needed covering for their bodies. They pieced together leaves from the fig tree for that purpose. Probably a poor choice as far as comfort as well. When God found them he took their fig leaves and exchanged them for animal skins. This was the first example of how leather became such a fashionable material for clothes.
So why did Jesus become upset when the fig tree didn't have fruit, well He knew that His purpose was to undo what happened in the garden. Man relied on the fig tree to give him what he needed then in a time of desperation. And again when Jesus and his friends were hungry the fig tree failed to provide them with what they needed. We see this as a strange story in the Bible, but if we look at this through Jesus eyes He sees that once again the tree has not given man what he needs. Certainly Jesus could have just made the tree to produce fruit for food, he had done this before. But the underlying truth is that the tree had let man down once before. It gave man a false sense of covering when that is not what God wanted, now it was giving Jesus the false sense of available food.
How often do we grab the first thing we can to solve a problem. Or try and correct something by relying on what we can find without much thought. In either of the Bible stories there was a better answer to the problem at hand, a solution from a loving and caring God, so why do we look at the fruit of a single tree when we have a vineyard to choose from. A kind of "can't see the forest for the trees" moment. We can see what God desires for our lives and follow His path to something better. After all He is willing to replace our scratchy leaves with fashionable leather, you can't get much better than that.