Monday, November 24, 2014

The Forgotten Fruit and the Bruises It Bears

Figs don't get the publicity they used to. And even though many great lovers of fruit have heard of this treat, they have yet to actually try it. This is travesty. If you've ever tried the fig, you know what I'm talking about. It is truly one of the more unique flavors in the fruit kingdom, with a soft texture which is mixed with the crunchiness of its seed core, and it has a sweetness which is quite separate from any other kind of sweetness.

Those from the Middle East do not have the same problem of not knowing this fruit - it's all over the place! The fig is to Middle Easterners what the apple is to Americans, I suppose. If you've read any of the Bible, (hint: it was written in the Middle East) you know that the fig is quite the stud among his fruit buddies.
"Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet's son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs." (Amos 7)
If you've read the Old Testament, you know that Amos is one of the Minor Prophets and has his own book (whoa). However, the man did not come from a line of prophets and was not designated by Israelite Prophet Association as a licensed minister. He was simply called by God to do what he did, but that's a lesson for another day. In his previous life, Amos was a "dresser of sycamore figs."

Now, the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon talked about Amos in a much cooler way than I could ever expect to. He says,
"...a more correct translation might be a bruiser, a trainer or preparer of sycamore fruit, the sycamore fruit being like a fig, though not quite so excellent in flavour. It was believed in the East that it would never ripen except it was a little bruised, so that some person was employed with an iron comb to scratch and wound the skin. Unwounded the fruit, even when ripe, was too bitter to be eaten, but after it had been wounded, it ripened rapidly, and became sweet, and was not an objectionable article of diet."
It seems as if one of Amos' primary positions in life was to literally bruise fruit. Imagine talking about that job at your high school reunion. However, unless the fruit was bruised, it was not made sweet enough to be enjoyed. Unless it was wounded, it wasn't good for anything but the trash heap.

Dear friend, I don't know what it is that you're going through right now, but hear me out for a second: maybe God's allowing some things into your life so that you could be made useful for a greater purpose. Consider for a moment that the pain might be God's way of giving you nothing to grab onto but Himself. Maybe the hurt, and doubt, and brokenness is His way of preparing you to bless someone who will experience the same trial. I know for a fact that this happened to me.

Maybe God's bruising you so that you might become sweet.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Home is for Keeps

I was born and have lived my entire 21-year-old life within one roughly-seven-mile radius. And it's not even like I've lived in one house my whole life - I've moved about 6 times. So I guess you could say I moved around a lot as a kid, but let's be real here: I've made my home within this small town that I grew up in.

I moved into the house I live in now about 8 years ago. I was 13. Everything I knew about living in houses was that we might not stick in one for all that long. There were no guarantees that I'd even get my driver's license while living in my house. This wasn't a huge emotional thing; it's not like I had to drastically change my life every time I moved. However, this whole moving-on mentality was something I was pretty used to.

That being said, I found myself recently thinking, "Wow. I really like living here."

I know they say that people get tired of seeing or doing the same thing all the time, but somehow, regardless of how little it's changed, this home had really grown on me over the years. Perhaps it was because I had the chance to let the years sink into my perception of this house that I began to truly realize how at home I felt. My room is now my lair, my cave, my sweet abode of manliness. Seriously, my desk is a carpenter's workbench (thanks dad!). Although, the curtains are a bit feminine. I've gotta do something about that...
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14)
Now watch the miracle that's happening in this text, and pay attention because it's easy to miss. Jesus, the Christ, the Lord of galaxies, earthly kingdoms, mountains, and even the screen you're reading this off of has an offer: if you would love and follow Him, he will make his home with you. 


First, let's get over the fact that this is one of the most mind-blowing, eyeball-exploding, lungs-bursting thoughts in existence and consider what it means to make a home with someone. It means that you're there for good. Permanent. It means to change the place where your mail gets delivered and set up shop for keeps.

And unlike the fickleness of a housing market which has encouraged a family to move 6 times within the same seven-mile radius, Jesus's new address in you is permanent because He will be with you wherever you go. And unlike the fickleness of a family member who can get so sick of your garbage that they decide to move out when things get rough, Jesus sticks around because, listen, His home is where your heart is.

And for a God that doesn't change, home is for keeps.