We had a healthy and well-established fig tree in our back yard and I was looking forward to eating some figs soon. However, at the request of our neighbor, my husband cut down a part of another tree that reached to our roof and over the fence. An unintended consequence of this was that the poor fig tree went into shock with all the new light entering its world. It lost all of its fruit and the leaves turned yellow and fell off. I thought it was a goner. But this fig tree was well-established and was able to overcome this stress and started to produce new leaves, as you can see in the picture above. I hope that we will get some fruit again, if not this season, perhaps next year. This tree is a good example of how we should refuse to quit when times get hard and our world is out of whack. If we are rooted in God and healthy in spirit, we will be able to overcome, like this tree did. God has been speaking this message to me a lot lately.
Today, I have been reading from a really good book (good means it meets me where I am today) by Joyce Meyer called A Leader in the Making, which is not only for leaders but for anyone, really. I happened to see it all dusty and old and at the bottom of the bookcase at Barnes and Noble just waiting for me to come find it. I didn’t resist the temptation to buy it, and I am not sorry. As I mentioned in a previous post, God talks to me by sending a repeated message from different sources because I am a hard-headed, slow-learning Christian and need to hear things a lot. After reading a bit of this book, I discovered that the same is true for Joyce Meyer too.
Last night as I was waiting to fall asleep, I had the television on the Daystar channel and Jentezen Franklin was preaching. I only caught the last 5 minutes, but he was telling about the Black Hawk Down story and how there was a time when the soldiers were under fire in a building and the commander said they needed to get in the truck and drive away, but one guy said he couldn’t because he had been shot. The commander said that they were all shot and to DRIVE! (Note that I have not read the book or seen the movie and may have the details wrong here.) Anyway, his point was that we should realize that all of us are wounded in life, we all have troubles, and we still have to keep going and to not quit. He quotes Proverbs 24:10 which says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
This morning, I read the daily Mass readings and the first one was the story of how Pharoah chased the newly freed Israelites to the Red Sea. Here is an excerpt from Exodus 14:
Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up
and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them.
In great fright they cried out to the LORD.
And they complained to Moses,
“Were there no burial places in Egypt
that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?
Why did you do this to us?
Why did you bring us out of Egypt?
Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,
‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’?
Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians
than to die in the desert.”
But Moses answered the people,
“Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.
These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”
First, I was marveling at how the Israelites were complaining to Moses for delivering them from bondage–that they would rather have lived as slaves in Egypt than die as free men in the desert. This reminds me of what Joyce Meyer said on page 19 of her book: “I would rather have a big dream and see half of it come to pass than to have a little dream and see all of it come to pass.” Then I was equally struck by how Moses stayed in communication with God and didn’t give up on his people. He loved them and had great faith that God would save them, which he did.
This ties in well with what I read in Joyce Meyer’s book because she points out that just as God doesn’t give up on us, we ought not to give up on that troublesome or difficult person in our life either. A good leader develops their own potential and helps others around them to become their best too. I need to remember this when my preteen or toddler pull their usual stunts and I am out of patience–I can’t give up when I know this is what God has called me to do. Joyce Meyer writes that once we have a vision for what God is calling us to do, we can’t quit until we see it accomplished. She says, “If you are ever going to develop the potential God has put in you, you must make up your mind that you are not going to quit, no matter what, until you see manifested what God has placed within you.”
I am sure that God is speaking this message to me for a reason. I think it is because he knows that I am weak and not as well-established as my fig tree, that I need some encouragement to keep going. Working on this blog has been helpful to me for many reasons, but not too many people have read it or seem to be affected by anything I have written yet. I think that God is saying to me that I need to not get discouraged, to not quit, and to trust that in the right season, this work will bear fruit. He is telling me that he indeed has called me to do this thing and that I need to keep at it even though it looks fruitless and to trust him and be patient. What a loving and tender God to tend to my needs before I even know I have them yet!
Have you ever felt like quitting but stuck with it and good things happened as a result? Share in the comments below.
*Note: I am Catholic, but the Spirit blows where it will and I receive his teachings from whichever source he wants to use. I appreciate the things I have read and heard by the two Protestant ministers I mentioned in this post, though I may not agree with all of their positions on things. I thank God for the many gifted and holy teachers that help us along our Christian way.