And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” (ESV) Luke 13:6-9
Jesus gives a parable about a fig tree in which an owner had been expecting fruit from it for three years. Exacerbated by the lack of fruit after all this time, he orders the vine to be destroyed. As I read several translations of this passage, I was reminded that it often takes the manure of life to produce real growth in us. As long as we reside in places of familiar comfort to us, we just exist. Producing little for the kingdom. We pray little, confess little, give little, study little, focus little, aim for little. But when trouble hit, it has a way of stirring up our prayer lives, driving us to fasting, compelling us to study, and it realigns our focus on things that truly matter in our lives.
Each of us have been allotted a time here on the earth. And how are we making use of our time? Are we just using up the ground? I don’t want to be guilty of fruitlessness. I don’t want God to grow weary of me just sitting around doing nothing. However, we should be cautious about busyness. Busy schedules are not an adequate measuring stick for fruitfulness.
The vinedresser requested more time in order to do two things.
Digging requires effort and it cuts into something that was hard or solidified and breaks into smaller parts. It separates things. For God to dig us out of those familiar places we’ve settled is uncomfortable. It’s irritating. Dung (manure) stinks. Who wants to endure being broken and being surrounded by smelling situations?
Don’t be disheartened if you find yourself encircled by dung during these days. Don’t even become discombobulated by the un-comfortableness of the things being broken down or detached from you. It all has purpose—growth.
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