Ibex

United States

Christian
as in Presbyterian Church in America
Female
Writer
Novelist
Poet!
Reader
Ambivert or something
Band nerd + Drum Major
Planet Earth nerd
etc, etc
Joined September 10, 2019

Message to Readers

This is a memoir I wrote this morning... It's a very bad first draft, so please review and comment!

The Fig Tree

April 17, 2020

FREE WRITING

1
    The fig tree came from my church’s first plant swap last summer. A fellow member brought a row of cuttings from his own tree, laid them out along the brick patio for the other attendees to see. I loved trees, especially fruit trees, and these fig cuttings intrigued me. I dreamed of a large, potted tree, heavy-laden with fresh fruit. It wasn’t long before I convinced my mother to let me bring one home.
    When Phillip approaches Nathanael, he says that he has found the man of whom all prophets spoke, a man from Nazareth. Nathanael, relaxing in the shade of a fig tree, asks if anything good can come from Nazareth, and Phillip replies that he must come and see for himself. When Nathanael follows Phillip to see this man, the man recognizes him. Although Nathanael is certain he has never met the man of whom Phillip speaks, this man already knows Nathanael, for Jesus saw Nathanael beneath the fig tree. Jesus saw Nathanael before the beginning of time.
    I grew up in a large, PCA church. When I was three years old, my parents acquainted me with Jesus for the first time. I played with a plastic, bear toy as my mom and dad explained the gospel to me. Suddenly, I understood the concepts of sin and salvation, as best as my three-year-old mind could. I placed my faith is Jesus that evening.
    When I was thirteen, a seventh grader, I began the membership course my church offered for teenagers every spring. Not many months later, in unison with my peers, I professed my faith before the entire congregation, a red rose adorning my sweater. I responded to each of the five vows with a confident “I do”.
    Afterwards, I felt strangely grown up. The gravity of each vow only hit me now, after I had already responded to them. Knowing I was now bound by these five vows gave the morning a very solemn feel. We took communion, and I thanked Jesus for what he had done for me. But still, something felt missing. Something within my own soul.
    Not a year later, I wrote in my journal that I felt farther away from God than ever before, largely due to my neglect of prayer and his Word. I lost an appreciation for Jesus. I began to fear death again. Every night, I asked God to reveal himself to me in a new way, because I wanted so badly to have the same love for God as other church-goers had. And yet, every day, I woke up with the same, convoluted priorities I had always had, with no thought for God or his grace. Nothing changed, and I was slipping out of control.
    When Jesus goes to the town of Bethany, the house of figs, he meets two women: Mary and Martha. Martha spends the day cooking, but Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to his teaching. Martha grows frustrated that Mary does nothing, while she must do all the work. She approaches Jesus and asks him to tell Mary to help her serve. But Jesus says that only one thing matters in life, and that Mary has chosen it.
    I struggled. Within me, there were two sides, constantly warring. Part of me wanted to just give in and live according to worldly desires, while the other wished to run back to God, but didn’t know how.
    Satan chose this time of uncertainty to bombard me with doubts. Daily, I struggled to decide whether the universe was created by God or by a big bang. I questioned every aspect of the Bible: its accuracy, its divine inspiration, the legitimacy of the flood, the Genesis account of creation, whether Jesus and God even existed at all. I was caught in a horrible, vicious cycle in which I constantly doubted Christianity, convinced myself that my religion was truth, and then found another questionable detail that I needed to somehow prove.
    When Adam and Eve sin for the first time by eating fruit from the forbidden tree, they realize they are naked, and cover themselves with fig leaves. Ashamed, they hide themselves from the God who created them.
    I hated myself for doubting God. Nightly, I prayed he would open my eyes so I could finally see him, but I received only silence in return. I wondered if I was stupid for believing he still existed, like the world said I was, brainwashed into thinking there was a God and that he sent his son to die for humanity. And yet I feared what my parents would say if I told them about my daily struggles, so I hid my doubts from them, happily watering my fig tree.
    When Jesus dies on a cross, he becomes the ultimate sacrifice for human sin. Having never sinned, he is perfect. There is no need for another sacrifice. He atones for our sin, once and for all. And on the third day, he conquers death by rising again. In order to be reconciled with God, humans need only trust that Jesus has taken their mistakes and thrown them into the depths of the sea.
    Easter Sunday, 2020, was weird day for my family. We attempted to stick with our traditions, even while locked in quarantine, by holding our own sunrise church service, eating a pancake breakfast, and listening to a live-streamed sermon. Once we had completed our egg hunt, I took my dog for a two-mile walk around town, which was still allowed in our area.
    On this walk, I passed a blossoming tree. It’s branches, which extended over the sidewalk, were just high enough that I could walk beneath it, but still low enough that I got the impression of being locked within a veil of white flowers.
    And God chose this moment to open my eyes. I suddenly saw the tree as something only he could have created. I was aware of him in a new way, aware of my own sin, and aware of my Savior. There was no rush of wind or blazing light from heaven, but I was certain he was with me. Every prayer from the last two years was suddenly answered; all along, when I wondered if he even existed, he had been listening to me.
    I nearly cried. The whole way home, another mile or so, I thanked God for his mercy, thanked him for listening to pitiful sinners and sending a way for them to be saved, so they could come to him. The same God who created the trees also created humanity and dared to die for them. The same God who created the sea loved sinners even when they didn’t love him. The same God who created the stars loved and listened to me when I cried out.
    When Jesus returns, he will make all things new. God will dwell with his people. He wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be a thing of the past; there will no longer be mourning, or crying, or pain.
    In the midst of a pandemic, only one thing is certain: God is with me, as he always has been, and he always will be. When I was Nathanael, not recognizing God, he knew me. When I embodied the two women from my namesake village of Bethany, Mary and Martha, God was watching over me. When I sinned and tried to hide my mistakes, God already knew. When Jesus died, he knew he was taking my punishment. He knows I keep looking out the window in hopes that I’ll seem him descending on the clouds. And although my life isn’t over yet, I know my fate is sealed, and I’ll spend my eternity with God. Until then, I’ll keep watering my fig tree.
The PCA: Presbyterian Church of America.
Bethany is labeled as the "house of figs" because the meaning of the name, Bethany, is "house of figs".

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  • April 17, 2020 - 11:13am (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • Anne Blackwood

    Omigosh I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I read this! What a beautiful piece. I am so happy for you. The songs Why God by Austin French and Broken Prayers by Riley Clemmons have been really encouraging to me lately, and I think you might like them.<3


    11 months ago