Last week we thought about our need for both grace and truth. Not just a slice of each, or a balance - but a full measure of grace (mercy, love) and truth (faithfulness). This week, as Henry Cloud has shown in his book “Changes that Heal,” we also need time.
Al and I were talking recently about how our approach to life learning and discipleship are very classroom oriented and bookish. Now, we are not against books, and especially The Book - but God has so designed our learning that it requires a lab - a place to put the theory into practice - an arena in which we can fail, and try again, all in the context of grace and truth. I fear that we are giving out information which is not being integrated into daily life, and as a result, we are wasting valuable days - times for you to grow in the application of grace and truth tested and proven by experience.
Cloud suggests that the verse at the top of the page taken from Jesus’ parable includes all three of these elements. The failure to produce fruit on the part of the fig tree is only an illustration of our own failures and fruitlessness. His promise to “dig” corresponds to the application of truth, and his promise to “fertilize” speaks of giving grace. And then he begs for time; another year in which to properly administer grace and truth in order to bring about healing and fruitfulness. If it could help a fig tree, do you think it might help you?
If we could understand that as followers of Jesus, every day is designed by God in such a way - that every experience is a lab; every people-contact an opportunity; every inconvenience a training session or a test; every pain a sign of God’s breaking pride and stiff necks in order to bring us into conformity with His Son, who is the very image of God. We can try and run away from these experiences, Jonah-style. Or we can try to plow through life without thinking and without feeling, strong man-style.
But why would we do so? What are we afraid of? Afraid of truth? Afraid of having to admit that we are wrong, and that God is right? Or is it grace? Are you afraid of grace? Afraid to admit that you have sinned and failed; or forgotten and wandered? Afraid to be forgiven?
There may be an area of your life that is stuck in time, brittle and fruitless. It’s about time to do a little digging (truth); time for a little fertilizing (grace), so that, in God’s good time, you can be alive and bear fruit.