It all started when I was having coffee with a close friend at our favorite coffee shop. She and I have one of those close relationships where we can span a broad array of topics over a leisurely two hours sipping our favorite brew. And on this morning, she began to share about a friend of hers who has a fig tree.
I was surprised to hear about a fig tree growing in the Midwest state we all live in, but she explained it is in a large pot that sits on a wheeled cart and in the warm months it is rolled outdoors and in the winter it is brought back in to keep it growing and blooming with figs.
As she was explaining all this to me, she added that there were hundreds of figs on the tree and told me how delicious they were. I responded that I had never tasted a ripe fig. They don’t show up in produce departments here and I have not been enthusiastic about dried figs. I recalled learning about that in Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg where she devoted an entire chapter to figs.
“Once plucked from the tree, a fresh fig has only an eight-to-fourteen day window to be enjoyed. Many grocery stores refuse to sell ripe figs because of their high perishability.”From Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg
That said, my friend said I really had to try some and the next week when we planned to meet, she would bring me some. I was game for that after hearing her talk about how scrumptious they were. I was also immediately reminded of places in the Bible where figs and fig trees are mentioned and that there was significance to them.
Many of you may have been enjoying delicious ripe figs all along, but this was going to be an adventure because you can’t really learn about how a fig tastes by reading about it.
A little reading about figs and fig trees will give you a greater appreciation for them (minus the actual taste). You see, they are unique among fruit trees. In my part of the Midwest where apple, pear, plum, and peach trees are common, we look forward to mid-to-late summer when they will begin to ripen for that year. But with fig trees it is a different story. They are multi-cropping and harvested several times during a year. In ancient Israel some fig trees were known to produce three times during the year giving them almost year-round access to these delights. Figs are not only delicious, but great nutritional sources of nutrients we need.
And consider this: statistics on how many figs can be produced on one fig tree range from 10,000 to as many as 75,000 figs per tree. That is truly being fruitful!
“Not only does the fruit taste scrumptious, but each fig contains more potassium than a banana, more fiber than a prune, and more calcium than a glass of milk.”From Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg
That gives perspective on what we read in the Gospel of Mark:
13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.”Mark 11:13 (NIV)
Clearly, Jesus expected to find figs and how much more so when we learn there was not just one short season of harvest for figs. The passage from Mark goes on to show us Jesus cursed that fig tree for its lack of fruit.
The Bible often tells us to be fruitful in both the Old and New Testaments. How much God points us to his desire and plan to be fruitful! But whether an apple tree or a fig tree, delicious fruit doesn’t appear without time, tending, and good conditions to produce a rich harvest. And that is true of us as well.
“Spiritual fruit is the result of being rooted in relationship with Christ. Any fruit – including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – provides evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit.”From Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg
With a fresh review of what I had learned about figs from Margaret Feinberg, I was even more eager for my next coffee date with my friend to finally taste a fig for myself.
And I was not disappointed! The fruit was delicious, sweet but not too sweet, and it filled my mouth with the scrumptious juicy pulp of the fig. It was perfectly ripe, and I shared a few with my husband who also had not tasted a ripe fig before now. (He agreed they were yummy.) As we finished off the last one, our mouths were wishing there were more to taste.
One taste of a fresh fig will definitely leave you looking forward to another taste and another after that. That’s how it is when you really taste something so that you ingest all the goodness of the thing being tasted.
You long for more of it.
Many read and even enjoy God’s Word, the Bible. They know a great deal about the stories and some of the truths captured in all 66 books it contains, but it will never really produce fruit until we actually taste it, ingest Him, not just the facts and stories about Him. Only then will we truly know Him and trust Him, desire to abide in Him, and produce the fruit of his likeness.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
The Lord doesn’t just want us to know about Him, He wants an ongoing relationship with us. Many in the Old and New Testaments missed that. Too many still do today. He loves us and made that clear when He sacrificed Christ on the cross so we would not need to be separated from Him.
“One of the beauties of the fig is that, once planted, the tree will continue to produce fruit for eighty to a hundred years. That’s Christ’s vision for us: that we will continue to yield the fruit of Christlikeness and find our satisfaction in him long after gray hairs sprout and crow’s feet nestle near our eyes.”From Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg
Have you tasted Him?