This little gem is the very first fig from my fig tree. It is actually the one and only piece of fruit I’ve gotten this year from my new, baby trees that were a gift from my hubby for Valentine’s Day (Who needs roses when you can have fruit trees)!
We planted 2 apple and 2 pear (for cross-pollination, obviously), and a precious little fig tree in the Spring. To my delight a tiny pear appeared in early May and I watched it everyday. I visited it and checked on its progress. We would hang out. I would touched it and squeezed it. It just generally left me happy like all growing things do. Then one day, my sweet-green-almost-ripe pear was gone. Not on the tree, not on the ground, GONE! I felt like I lost a friend. My guess is that a dog or a child bumped it off and it fell to the ground where any number of Ranchito critters feasted on it. So sad. I then turned my attention to the budding little fig tree. I resumed my visitations and anticipated its ripening with a more cautious eye. Do you know that it took this one fig weeks to grow and ripen? Weeks. And once I finally picked it, it took me approximately one and half minutes to wash it, cut it, and eat it. Now, if I had been feeling fancy and wanted to put it on a cracker with some goat cheese and honey, it might have been more like a 5 minute snack but none the less, my little fig was gone quickly.
Currently, I have 5 baby chicks residing in my bathroom.
I know that this is a totally normal situation so we will not belabor the obvious point that the floors are heated and they need a constant temperature of 95 degrees the first weeks of life so they HAVE to live in the bathroom (I’m talking to you, Babe. It DOES NOT sound like we are sleeping in a zoo- much). Do you know that it takes about 24-26 weeks for a chick to start laying eggs? That is about 6 months of protecting, feeding, and nurturing before they produce their first egg. Before they “bring anything to the table,” so to speak. And do you know that once a hen starts to lay, it takes her body about 24-36 hours to naturally lay each egg? Isn’t that amazing? A few mornings ago I had a couple of extra children around the breakfast table and we went through a dozen eggs before 8:30am. In one sitting. Just like that. That was either about 2 weeks worth of hard laying for one girl, or 12 chickens’ full day’s work.
None of this is revolutionary, I know, but it has certainly, humbly taught me a couple of lessons lately. First of all, maybe we take the Lord’s amazing, ingenious provisions for granted. I know I do. In a culture and time when most everything is accessible to the masses by a simple trip to the grocery store, we are so far removed from the starting places of what we consume. A tiny seed, that finally becomes a tree, that finally buds a tiny fruit, that takes weeks to mature and ripen. Just one. And we throw 5 or 10 in a plastic bag without thought. Meat that started as an embryo. Eggs that took sweet hens at least 6 months and 24 hours to gift to you. I don’t know what to say except maybe we give a little extra thanks tonight as we sit in front of a meal that our creative God provided through endless steps and journeys.
Also this eloquent point:
Stuff takes a long time.
It does. Relationships take a long time. Building community takes a long time. Creating a home takes a long time. Raising kids well takes a long time. Righting ships that have gone astray takes a long time. A faithful walk with Christ takes a long time. Authentic, mature, intimate marriage takes a long time- Like, maybe it takes a lifetime.
When I am plotting my garden, I always have to look at the zone I live in to see what the growing season is for a particular fruit or vegetable. There are places with longer and shorter growing seasons. There are certain plants that have a longer or shorter growing season. What I am realizing is that life, humans, relationships all have very long growing seasons. We are eternal beings, so I suppose we have eternal growing seasons. Stuff takes a long time. It’s obvious in nature. We can see it, plot it, watch it. My tiny fig tree will not produce what my friend’s giant tree will with its roots deep and decades of growth behind it. There is nothing I can feed to my 1 week old chicks to get them to lay a single egg before their little bodies are ready. But maybe we aren’t so apt to see it when it comes to the things of the Spirit, of relationships, of life. Growth is certainly organic. It happens when it happens naturally. Sometimes all we can do is fertilize and persevere. You know, like patience, long-suffering, endurance… Lessons we don’t like much when we are talking about things bigger than figs and eggs.
As I studied the book of Acts this summer with the online community She Reads Truth, I was struck at how many times a small verse would read, “for a whole year Saul met with the church,” “and they stayed a long time with the disciples,” “some time later,” “they remained,” “he stayed and worked with them,” “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time,” “this [preaching] went on for two years,” “when two years had passed,” “for two whole years Paul stayed there.” These were all different records of time. That is a lot of staying, and remaining. In one verse years are gone, over and over. This is so humbling to me as I get discouraged in places of remaining myself, when I think something should take less time to produce the outcome, the results, the fruit in my life.
In Malachi 3:11 God says, “the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe.” What fruit is God growing in this season in your life? Do you ever look around and feel like it must have dropped like my little pear friend did? Is it a ministry you thought would be budding by now? Did you think your finances would be producing a harvest this year? Did you hope your marriage would be rooted deep today, and instead you are searching for signs of life? Have you been pouring into someone and feel your fruit has not only been dropped, but shoved back in your face? Have you been believing for bounty in a child’s life but the storehouse appears empty? Me too y’all. Oh my goodness, me too! But what has our God promised us?
By your patience, possess your souls. Luke 21:19
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end so that what you hope for may be fully realized. Hebrews 6:10-11
You see, it’s a long growing season for us. Someone needs to know that today. I need to remember that today. There is no invisible time limit on the things of the Spirit, on relationships, on giftings. We are eternal. Your harvest may be right around the corner, and honestly, it may be decades down the road. We can’t know how deep the roots go for someone else that seems to be reaping what you have been sowing. Some of us have had scorching seasons. For others it has been the storms. You may be amid battering winds right now. It may be a drought you are facing. But if you are alive, you are growing. It is organic. But you can fertilize that thing with the Word of God, with prayer, and most of all with remaining.
Unfortunately, we can’t just run to the store and grab an intimate marriage and throw it in the bag. We can’t pick up a little lasting community, or faithful friendships at the drop of a hat. A deep relationship with the Lord is paved with hours, and days, and decades. Restoration takes time. Forgiveness takes time. A successful business, the legacy of family, a powerful ministry, they all take time. Stuff takes a long time. Don’t cast that fruit before it is ripe! Don’t throw it away before the victory! Don’t walk away before the harvest! Can we be like Paul and stay? Can we remain and patiently wait, even among a culture that would say to toss it and move on? Can we do the work again and again, knowing our God is faithful to His word? Anticipate the harvest but settle in for a long growing season. Be encouraged to stay at it. (Baby chicks in your bathroom make it a little more fun! Just saying!).