The landscape took my breath away. Thriving green trees had turned Autumn colors; yellow, orange, and blazing red. With diminishing light and water supply from shorter days, the trees had stopped making their food. Their vibrant leaves would soon brown, shrivel and fall from their branches. Barren arms would reach for sunlight in the cold winter months.
Amongst the brilliant fall colors, I thought about a conversation with a friend who runs a successful ministry. She was extremely tired. “I’m going to end this ministry,” she said, “it’s just too much with all I’ve got going on in my life.”
I paused, processing what she said. She continued, “I feel like my heart is caged and hanging from a withered tree. Has my ministry died?”
With such a huge question to unpack, I replied, “Why did Jesus wither the fig tree?”
She answered, “Because it didn’t produce fruit?”
“The fig tree is a common Old Testament metaphor for Israel. Jesus was demonstrating His Judgement on Israel for their spiritual condition which in turn, was not bearing fruit. Our lives will produce fruit, when we are fulfilling our purposes for God.”
My friend said, “So Jesus withered the tree because it wasn’t fulfilling it’s purpose?”
Then I asked, “You said that you are tired. You feel like your heart is caged and hanging from a withered tree. Why?”
“Because I have too much to do and I’m exhausted.”
I nodded in agreement because I could relate. “I get caught up in growing my ministry and measuring the growth rate of my success. If numbers don’t pencil out, I consider ending the ministry. Or I push myself until I’m exhausted as I continue to grow it.”
She shook her head to agree with me.
I asked one final question. “Do you believe you are fulfilling your purpose for God in your ministry?”
She smiled as she thought about her passion. “Yes!”
“Then rest. Take some things off your calendar. Focus on God, your family and your ministry. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. As you fulfill what you were called to do, the cage door will open, your heart will be free and the branches will bloom again.”
The wind blew through the leaves. Their rustling brought me back from deep thought. I would have to take the same advice I gave to my friend. Removing things from my schedule. Not fretting about numbers. Resting. Fulfilling my purpose.
The autumn air was cool and I raised my arms to the heavens.
Help me to live for you and do all that You’ve called me to do.
“Small numbers make no difference to God. There is nothing small if God is in it.” — Dwight L. Moody
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season.