Here Goes Nothing {or Begging for a Miracle of Destruction}

I sent them a package at Christmas: German souvenirs for Dad, a hand-made tote for Mom, pictures of the monkeys, and a handwritten letter recounting the various adventures of our life – this trip overseas, that upcoming retirement, this new sewing ministry.

I confessed how how their influence shaped my path – how her love of sewing, creating, decoration, and natural knack of recycling any and all things paved the road I now travel. How she was my first example of turning ashes into beauty. How she first showed me principles of reclaiming, restoring, and redeeming this life.

I wanted to be a blessing. To bring life of a lifeless love. To be like Jesus and, “be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). But out of these efforts came

nothing.

No phone call. No letter. No recognition of any deed undertaken. No acknowledgement of a heart inscribed on paper. Nothing. And it was here, in the nothing, that I realized:

  • I’m still on this road named Forgiveness.

  • And I’m still tripping over unmet expectations, and stumbling over bitter roots, and faltering in my anger.

  • I’m still searching for the path that leads to Peace.

My pastor talked of the Miracle of Destruction one Sunday.  You know the story where Jesus walks up to a perfectly good-looking fig tree, finds no figs, and then curses the tree to its death?!

“May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” He said. And his disciples heard him. (Mark 11:14)

A public proclamation of uselessness. A public service announcement declaring, “This tree has failed Me!” And everyone around Him heard.

So what’s the point? The tree appeared healthy.  Full of leaves, its round canopy blew in the wind and pledged shade and a hope of harvest. (Remember, it was not the season for figs.) But that’s all it had going for it – presence, promises, and potential. It was all leaves and no fruit. All show and no profit. All beauty and no substance. In short, it was dead on the inside.

And then, just to keep us in suspense, Jesus strolls on off to the temple. The glorious, glittering, gold-laden temple of God in the heart of Jerusalem, only to find the very.same.thing. Can’t you hear it?

“Get your doves here. Only 5 shekels a piece!”

And from across the money changer’s aisle, “I’ll beat any competitors price. Two doves for 5 shekels. Or 10 for a talent!”

The House of God had been turned into a den of wholesale thieves. God’s glory exchanged for a pageant. His covenant exchanged for business contracts. His people expecting anything…except, of course, God himself.

Even the high priest, Zacharias, fell flat on his face inside the holy of holies because he actually encountered the last thing he ever expected to find: the very presence of God. The temple was dead on the inside.

And then I got it. That strangely cursed fig tree? The harmless, guiltless, unassuming sapling, void of fruit because it was not even the season for figs? This tree is like the temple. And the temple is like me: All leaves. No fruit.

  • I wanted to appear honorable.
  • I secretly believed that if I obeyed God’s command to send love to the loveless, I would be blessed. I would receive His portion of the contract.
  • I not-so-secretly expected something, anything (read – not nothing) in response.

And even more regretful – while I despised their “nothing,” I judiciously neglected my own “nothing,”

  • My lack of joy
  • My lack of peace
  • And patience, and kindness, and goodness…

You know – those fruits of the Spirit? Those results of all the presence, promises, and potential of Christ alive in me?

Despite the beauty of my billowing leaves, I was not about My Father’s business. I was not about being a blessing or bringing life to the lifeless. They did not see my good works and glorify My Father in heaven. They saw only me – trying too hard to be noticed. All leaves. No fruit.

“Oh, you’re being too harsh,” you might say. But, no. I actually want to be the cursed fig tree.

  • “Destroy what’s dead in me! Perform a miracle of destruction within my soul,” I say.

  • “Wither my wildly-waving, look-at-me branches down to the roots. And may it be done as swiftly as it was done one hungry morning outside Jerusalem,” I say.

  • “This is the very reason Jesus came to earth: to save a wretch like me,” I say.

Confession of sin is an evidence of true salvation. True Christians call sin what God calls sin. Instead of setting their own personal standard, by picking and choosing, Scripture is their only standard of living.

I wanted speak life and love into a silent land. But something was still dead on the inside! I was still mad at their nothing.

Some strain of corrosion tolerated good works, but produced no spiritual fruit {like love or joy or peace or patience}. Allowed for a beautifully crafted offering, but made no room for God’s presence to overcome their absence.

That something is the sin within. Unforgiveness, perhaps? Unmet expectations held tightly in the vault of my past? Unsettled anger at offenses not yet aired? Yes. And yet – still sin.

If I say that I have no sin, I deceive myself and the Truth is not in me. But He. {Isn’t there always a, “But He.”} He is faithful. He is just. He forgives and washes clean. And isn’t it from a forgiven heart that forgiveness flows? Isn’t it from a loved heart that love pours out? Isn’t it in the presence of God that life bursts forth?

So I pray with John, “Perform a miracle of destruction within my soul. Obliterate the unforgiveness, expectations, and anger that corrode my insides. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Forgive me that I may forgive. Love me that I may love. Fill me with your presence that the sting of their nothing is replaced by the joy of every good thing that comes from You.” Truly, here goes nothing.

Photo Credits {HERE}

Might I Pray for Us?

Lord Jesus, come. Invade our dead places and bring us life. Overturn the money-changing tables of our heart, and draw us into your presence. We wave our leaves. We shine our gold. And all the time You wait, hungry for our hearts. Forgive us for fixing our eyes upon our own appearance and not upon Your face. For promising to do your will, only when we expect to receive something in return. For anticipating blessing, even when we are filled with sin and strife and unforgiveness. We confess, “We have sinned!” Please be faithful and just with us. And by your Grace forgive us and cleanse our temples from all unrighteousness. Amen.
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Here Goes Nothing {or Begging for a Miracle of Destruction}

  1. Dear friend,

    Remember that you are not defined by THEM, you are defined by HIM. I love you and look forward to “daily life” soon. J

    K

    • Exactly. But I’m also learning that things like expectations, offenses, and anger are really called, ‘sin’. And I thought it all ended with the 10 CCs. 🙂

  2. Great post, Tracey!

    Love, Lisa

    Sent from my iPhone with autocorrect, which has a mind of its own.

    >

Comments are closed.