Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Fig Trees Aren't Good Enough
"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before
Philip called you." (John 1:48 NIV)
It's the real question. How am I known? There's one behind that, too. Do I
want to be known?
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world
did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did
not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his
name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of
natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of
God. (John 1:10-13 NIV)
How does God know all of us? Each one, completely and truly, to the depths
of the individual soul. How much of what he sees in there would I rather
God's eyesight ranges the timelines from beginning to end. A billion
billion fig trees aren't enough to hide us from him; my vaunted
invisibility is an illusion. It works among people more because of willful
blindness than anything else.
How does he know me? And why would he bother? The sight can't possibly be
Maybe he sees things differently. Some people look at my sand sculptures
and see only the flaws, of which there are plenty. Perfection is impossible
and under the time pressure of one day, one man and one sculpture I have to
choose how to balance time against precision. I could make a simple
sculpture perfect, spend 10 hours polishing the shape so that there are no
bumps nor disruptions of the curves. The result wouldn't be worth looking
at. I prefer to make a complex sculpture that has some rough spots and then
defocus my vision a bit so the flaws aren't so obvious.
Maybe God does the same thing. Maybe Jesus hides our known flaws. He knows
they're there, but he chooses not to look at them but at the complex
growing beauty behind them.
How much of my self-esteem comes from imaginary fig trees? I live in a
thick forest. God's esteem of me comes from his truth. He knows! There are
no secrets from the Maker of the Universe. His knowledge leads not to
self-hatred but to something else I barely begin to understand.
Depression comes from not being able to feel anything. Truth leads to
feeling everything, which makes for more truth. Feeling bad isn't the same
as depression; that can lead to depression but the phenomenon is different.
Feeling bad means I'm alive. Depression means I'm dying, although our world
prefers to think of depression as an invitation to take drugs. Anything to
There's something about being known by God that crowds out depression. Life
is at least lively. Painful, yes, but at least I know I'm alive. It's far
from the old-style never really knowing when one day ends and the next
begins, year after year with nothing really mattering.
Jesus knows what's under every rock, inside every bulging closet. He knows
me. And he still cares.
2005 January 26