Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree shall not blossom, and fruit is not on the vines; the work of the olive fails, and the fields make no food; the flock is cut off from the fold, and no herd is in the stalls,
Ever had a day like that? Raise your hands because I know you have. You sit at your desk and look at the sun coming up and the depression that oppresses your soul is like a sore tooth, but you do not know where the soreness is coming from or why it is there. Life should be good... but, it is not at this precise moment.
Seriously, I never thought Habakkuk could ever teach me a lesson. I do not think I’ve ever heard a sermon on Habakkuk. But, there it was in black and white. Verse 17 of chapter 3. Yes. I felt that way. Empty. Void. Depressed. Where is the fruit that God needs from me? Where is the stuff that He works through me? What use am I to the Lord God, or to anyone else? There seemed to be a numbness pervading my being. Verse 17 described it perfectly.
Then I read verse 18.
Habakkuk 3:18 yet I will exalt in Jehovah; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
It’s like Job declares, “Though He slay me, I will still praise Him.”
Something cracked inside as I read that verse. A dam burst... no, it was more like a glacier melting. In the time it takes to blink, a thousands years could expire… it all depends upon perspective. God has no time constraints because He invented time. From my perspective, 30 seconds can seem like ten years sometimes. I had several months of grief that was but a speck in my time line given my age. Yet, months do not amount to a nano second in God’s time. And it all means absolutely nothing compared to the wonders God has planned for eternity. My little spot of woes won't matter one whit a million years from now. Then I'll have been with my glorious Father for a million years. That is true, but in a million years will doing the works of God matter? Will fruit matter?
When Hurricane Charley blasted through Florida, my cousin's grapefruit tree was six years old and was about to bear some fruit. Charley ravaged it badly. In the following year, though, it leafed out beautifully, but no fruit. My cousin consulted an arborist who told her the tree was sacrificing its fruit so that it could survive, and it might take several more years before it finally bore fruit. Survival of itself was more important to the tree that its bearing fruit and its own procreation.
However, to God, fruit is the purpose, not the tree.
Matthew 21:19 And seeing one fig tree by the road, He went up to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only. And He said to it, Let there be no more fruit from you forever. And the fig tree immediately dried up.
The lesson from Jesus? No fruit... no life.
Jonah blathers about Nineveh’s repentance and pouts on a hill. God causes a vine to grow that protects Jonah from the scorching sun and the beating heat. Then God causes a worm to eat the vine, the vine withers and Jonah, fainting from the sun and heat, pouts even more. I can see God shaking his head at Jonah.
“Don’t you get it yet, son?” God asks. “You have pity for a plant that lasted 24 hours, how much more pity I have on the more that 120,000 innocents of Nineveh who do not know their right hand from their left hand." God gave those innocents mercy and grace, and the people of Nineveh repented of their wickedness, turning to the One True God. Though they did not deserve it, they had Grace. While they were yet sinners, God gave them a chance to live for him. Those people of Nineveh were just like that grapefruit tree and the fig tree. One hundred years after Jonah pouted under a withered up vine, the great city that Nimrod built and that Sennacherib made even greater and more lavish crumbled under the heel of Nebopolassar, a Babylonian king. It was destroyed just as God told Jonah to prophesy that it would.
The prophet Nahum cried out against Nineveh... A nation that had the opportunity to bear huge amounts of fruit, but went back to worshiping gods that had no eyes to see and no ears to hear.
Nahum 3:1-4 Woe to the bloody city! All of it is a lie, all of plunder; the prey is not withdrawn. The sound of a whip, and the sound of rattling of a wheel, and a galloping horse, and of a bounding chariot. The horseman lifts up both the gleam of the sword and the lightning of the spear, and many are slain, and there are a mass of dead bodies, and no end of corpses; they stumble on their dead bodies, because of the many harlotries of the well favored harlot, the mistress of sorceries who sells nations by her harlotries, and families by her sorceries.
God spent a lot of time teaching me, training me, carrying me, dancing with me, loving me and walking with me. Now it is time that I walk His way, follow His steps, wait for His timing, bear His fruit, work His works. I would that it be easier than it is, but so be it as it is.
Considered thoughts from Gina Burgess at 4:25 PM