“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down’” (Luke 13: 8-9).
Did you know a fig-tree usually takes three years to reach maturity? If it is not fruiting by that time, it is not likely to fruit at all. But the fig-tree, in this parable, was given another chance!
It is always Jesus’ way to give a person chance after chance. And I should know; I can’t begin to count the number of opportunities I’ve received in life. God is infinitely kind to the person who falls and rises again. God is the God of second chances. Thanks be to God!
As I reflect on this gospel of second chances, I remember an experience I had as a young pastor, just out of seminary, that profoundly impacted my life and ministry …
She loved her dad very much, and she knew that he loved her. But what was she to do now? What would he say when he found out? She had made some bad decisions in her life, and he had always stood with her no matter the issue. But now, what about now? She was a college student, unmarried, and pregnant. Her greatest fear was that this would be the final straw, and he would say enough is enough and wash his hands of her. She wouldn’t blame him if he did. The good news is that he didn’t; he still loved his daughter very much.
Without going into a lot of detail, I was a young pastor, and she came into my office and shared her situation with me. After a great deal of listening and praying together, she agreed to a meeting with her dad. At her request, I would be present to help facilitate the conversation and offer support.
I witness something unexpected. I saw a dad listen to a wayward daughter. There was no scolding, no anger – just a broken heart for his struggling and fearful daughter. He assured her that both her mother and he would stand with her. He was disappointed, to be sure, but his love for his daughter was unconditional. Nothing would ever change that! I don’t know who was crying more, them or me. It was an incredible moment for them, to be sure, but also for me. I saw at that moment a portrait of God’s unconditional love.
She went on to have the child, and with the help of her parents, she finished college. And today, she is happily married and has two children she adores and loves unconditionally. God’s love is unwavering. God never gives up on us. We are loved, and that’s a fact!
Lord, your love for me is beyond measure. Your love is a love not rooted in performance. It is who you are. Fill me, Lord, with your love so I too may love as you love.