Iceland used to have forests. In fact, trees once covered 50% of their island. But that changed, and at the present time, forests have dwindled to a mere 1%, despite the many initiatives at work to reverse this trend.
It was no wonder that upon hearing we were from Canada, the desk clerk at our hotel in Selfoss exclaimed: “I’m going to Nova Scotia in September … Is it true that there are lots of trees there? I heard that farmers have to cut down trees in order to plant their fields. Is that right? I can’t wait to see trees!”
Her enthusiasm was quite catchy, and although we wanted to visit Iceland, it made us longing for our beautiful, forested land!
Although trees are delightful, what is even better is longing to experience our Heavenly Father fully. He is the One who brings us complete fulfillment. But are our hearts really prepared for him? Are there obstructions in our heart that hinder us from getting to know the One who is completely dedicated to us?
Speaking of trees, the Bible tells the following story: “Jesus was hungry. 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. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.'” (Mark 11:12-14 NIV)
We may be perplexed about why Jesus cursed the tree, but it was a precursor of what was going to happen next.
“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” (Mark 11:15-17 NIV)
The fruitless fig tree was a symbol of how many believers worship God. We may have many leaves, but if no fruit is forthcoming, we are fakes! We may pretend to be on our way to heaven, but if we think solely of ourselves, without even acknowledging the price it cost for Jesus to redeem us, we are erring completely on the wrong side of the tracks!
Where is our fruit of love, of patience, of endurance . . .? Too many among us believe in attaining heaven through our own efforts. Let’s sell these doves to the glory of God! In all reality we are more interested in filling our own purse! Salvation cannot be obtained that way! We will find ourselves standing completely bare of fruit!
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal 5:4 NIV)
It’s easy to criticize, and it is even easier to rely on ourselves to reach heaven. Who else can we completely trust? However, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov 14:12 NIV)
Instead of hungering for self-accomplishments, may we long to get to know the One who is truly our Lord and Saviour. Relying on ourselves will only bring grief and disappointment. Fruit will not be forthcoming, and we will wither to nothingness.
“I can’t wait to see trees filled with appetizing fruit from above!”
Would you like an apple?
(To access the entire “Only in Jesus” devotional series, please click here.)