Journeying into God’s Merciful Love – The Garden

Week of February 28, 2016

Today Jesus tells those gathered a parable about a fig tree.  It is a tree that from outward appearances has not produced any fruit.  It has not responded to the care of the gardener.  The owner of the garden wants to cut it down.  He tells the gardener to give up.  The gardener is a patient one.  He longs to give the tree another chance.  On behalf of the tree, the gardener pleads for more time.  The gardener even tells the owner he will take special care of it, not to be discouraged by the lack of figs at the present harvest.  So often we ask for more time.  I can remember being in school and always telling my parents that I could have scored higher on the test if I had more time.  How often has a child used the words, “just give me one more chance and I will prove it to you that I can be trusted”?  As a person is about to be called home by God, many family members plead for more time.  All of these are common sentiments.  If we just have more time.

In the parable Jesus is the gardener.  He longs to plead our cause, He longs to give us another chance.  He longs to give us more time.  No matter how we have not grown or how we have become dormant in our faith, Jesus sees the potential, He sees the possibility and will give the extra effort to make growth happen.  When I reflect on just that aspect of God’s love, I am ready to fall on my knees and praise God.  Jesus our Lord is willing to plead to the Father on our behalf.  Jesus is willing to see our potential and give us a second chance.  That is not the way of this world, but it is the way of our Savior.  What an incredible trust God has in us. Our Savior Jesus Christ offers us more time.  Jesus offers us a belief that we can come to the harvest with more than we have right now.  We have a Savior who does not look at what hasn’t taken place or what fruit we have not produced.  Rather He is the first to say with special care we can do better.

When I think of the many coaches who encouraged me to run, I think of how even in the agony of defeat, their belief in us as a team gave us the confidence to run faster, trust the system and get better.  In my senior year we were looking at trying to score points at the 2 mile relay, the first event in a track meet.  It was the Catholic League Championships and we were not picked to do well.  Before we left on the bus for the meet I can remember our coach gathered around us and told us that with our efforts we could do something special and wonderful.  With our best efforts, if we all came through at the right time, we could set the tone for the rest of the meet.  It was a tall charge.  It was a reality that we had faced many times when running the first event.  Often the time we set by losing was not a good one.  But on this day, we rose to the occasion.  Even though in the past we had put our team behind, on this day we came through.  Although we didn’t win, we placed and that began a momentum switch.  Although others dropped batons and records were not set, on that day, the coach looked at us and gave us the confidence to make something happen.

We all do better with encouragement. Jesus longs to encourage us, longs to embrace us with the patience of a Savior. As we move into the garden, may we take the gardener’s advice. May we receive all of His extra care and may we find Him proud of what we become.

As we journey in to God’s merciful love, may it find us embracing the joy of a Savior who is patient with us.

Rev. John J. Ouper