Some days there is an awful lot of growling and shouting around our house. Feet stamp as a violent, "No!" is declared. Fists curl and clench and the anger is thick enough to cut with a knife. Quiet apologies and reconciliation come (much) later, but first we must wade through the deep swampy places of emotional, angry kids.
I do my best to be patient, to be firm, and not to take it all too seriously, but a mama can only bear so much drama of this sort. There were a few weeks last month that I wondered what on earth we should do to keep them from killing each other.
Then, one Thursday night at our community group, a friend randomly mentioned this story in Luke 13,
Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
She told me that she had a fig tree once that wouldn't bear fruit, too. When she asked an arborist about it, she was amazed at what he told her to do.
"Dig a trench around it," he echoed the words of Jesus. "Fertilize it, and give it a year. You have to draw the roots down deeper so that it will produce figs. Fig trees are notoriously shallow-rooted if you don't do that."
She nearly fell over. Jesus and arborists both know a lot about plants, apparently.
As I listened to her story, I could hear the echo of God behind them, answering my prayers for my children. Patience, time, faithful tending will bear fruit in our children.
"Dig around your children," God advised. "Compost the mess of their mistakes, water their lives with prayer, and fertilize their souls with love. Have patience. Have faith. Wait and see what I do."
Our children need deeper roots. They must grow into loving Jesus. One decision to share or forgive or let an offense go isn't all it will take. One moment of wise counsel from a parent won't be the last one they need. But bit by bit, situation by situation, they will grow deeper roots over time.
It's all going to be okay....