Repost•Reuse•Recycle

{This is a mostly recycled post from my adoption blog a couple years ago. And, I’m reposting not because I’m lazy or have no new material—at least not today, but because this topic is very timely and the words still very true. I hope it ministers to you in some way today, or maybe in the future when it’s real in your life as well. It’s fairly lengthy, but I hope you will read to the finish.}
FigTreeKids 

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

-Habukkuk 3:17-18

Oh, look! A FRIENDLY WARNING! This particular blog post might not be for you. Some of you might read my words and only wish to argue. And that’s okay, as I love a good debate…sometimes. And let me mention that I think Joel Osteen has many great points, but let’s be real, he wouldn’t jive with this post. And, I’m sure many of you could find five hundred bajillion ways to discredit my points. So if you need this disclaimer, then maybe this post isn’t for you and you will probably waste your time reading it. BUT, if you want to hear some brutal honesty and some encouragement from a not-so-popular but perhaps quite common place to be when following hard after Jesus, read on. I’m writing this post, because honestly, one little status update on Facebook couldn’t contain all that is in my heart. And, I’m putting all of this out there because fake-ity, freakin’ fakeness is futile and sometimes you just need to be real because Hey, you’re not alone after all. So there. There’s my friendly warning and disclaimer. Do with it what you will.

The Fig Tree Truth

Kirk and I know so many following hard after Jesus in their walks, in their obedience, in their faith. They’ve chosen to say YES when all logic and practicality scream NO. They’ve walked without sight, obeyed without hesitation, and have sought no earthly rewards. YET, let’s be honest: The pantry seems bare, the bank account is in the red (again), the cars are in disrepair, birthday and Christmas gift-giving is a cause for stress and worry, the phone calls and bills are unceasing, and going to the mailbox is a cause for dread. They know that saying YES to Jesus doesn’t bring earthly rewards, yet they wonder if and when God will give them what would feel like a much-needed (and much-deserved) break.

We’ll be frank and tell you, friends, that we know what that’s like. The honest reality is, the more Kirk and I and our family follow Jesus and say YES with total abandon, the more we understand it. Sure, some follow Jesus and money is no worry. Some say YES and live in luxury (I guess). Some say YES and never want for anything. But for most, well, at least for us (as well as many friends), it’s just not the case.

I’m convinced that the whole point in saying YES to Jesus is not to do some great work for Him. No, I’m certain that saying YES to Him is ultimately about learning to walk so closely with Him that we trust Him not just for our future, not just for our lives’ purposes as a whole, not just for Him to use us in mighty ways, not just for the big picture, but learning to trust that He provides for the work to which He calls us, and that He does so DAILY. Sure, we would love for God to drop down a lump sum of money so that we wouldn’t have to worry about money for a whole year. We’d welcome us getting a huge raise, our income to suddenly increase, our mortgage to be paid off, and the bills to cease. BUT, for us, God has clearly chosen that we learn to follow and trust Him daily. Sometimes (and more often lately than ever before), even hourly. For us, He chooses to feed us by His manna.

Perhaps someday that will change. Perhaps someday we will not have to pray over every bill. Perhaps someday this will all just be a memory. But for now, well, we’ve chosen to put it all on God’s tab. If He has called us to this work (which we believe He has), then the burden for carrying it out falls on Him, not us. It’s easy to forget that truth when all earthly reality looks otherwise, but that’s when we remind ourselves that this Earth is not reality! The bank account in the red is only temporary! The bills in the mailbox are just pieces of paper that won’t matter in the end!

We’ve often heard and told ourselves that—no matter what comes our way—nothing will change our eternity. But, what we’ve come to learn over the past few years and that we now remind ourselves daily, is that no matter what the bank account looks like, no matter what financial needs we have, no matter what stresses might befall us, not only will it NOT affect our eternity, but it will also not alter God’s ability to use us for His purposes while on this planet! God will STILL fulfill His purposes for us! In fact, we have seen His wild purposes fulfilled through us more often when we have had so very little of our own to offer.

Think about it: Do we have so little trust in Him to think that He didn’t see it all coming? That He called us to this great work only to leave us hanging? That He needs our padded bank accounts to use us in His Kingdom? That He doesn’t know what earthly eases we have sacrificed to follow hard after Him? That He won’t use us in this place in precisely the ways He has planned no matter what? No, my friends. Not only will our temporary troubles not affect our eternities, but they won’t even limit God’s purposes for our earthly lives!

In all brutal honesty, the more we have said YES to Jesus, the more we have hurt financially. (Boy, is that an understatement.) The more our cars have fallen apart. The less we have in our bank account. The more the bills pile up. It’s tempting to fall into a crying heap and ask God for a break, to tell Him it’s not fair. {And trust me, people. That happens sometimes, and it sure ain’t pretty.} To remind Him that I could have very well chosen a high-income job and lived a self-serving life, that we could have stopped at two kids and lived a “normal” life in surburbia, that we didn’t HAVE to do this, and that instead—Are you listening, God?!—I gave it all up to serve you in ways that would humble me and press me beyond what I had envisioned for my life and would you please give me, give us, a bit of a break?!

I confess that’s a prayer, honestly, that comes out of my mouth almost every day, sometimes more than a few times within twenty-four hours. That’s a prayer that I pray not to pray anymore. And He’s teaching me. He’s revealing to me in His sweetly personal way that it is not a punishment from Him that our pantry is sometimes fairly bare; it might even be a privilege. It’s not a sign that we aren’t being blessed by Him if the bank account falls into red (again); it might even be confirmation. It’s not a message to us that we’ve made a mistake when the money is barely there; it might just be His manna.

Where we live, especially, it’s easy to think that we should be seeing earthly rewards when we say—even shout—YES to Jesus. Our wealthy society and our comfortable, American Christian culture try to convince us that we’ll have lives of ease if we’re doing everything “right,” even for Him. But it’s just not the case. For us, it has not been our experience. We’ve always (halfway) joked that Dave Ramsey would have a field day with us, because for us, following Jesus looks nothing like the financial plan Ramsey would advise us to follow. Financial peace for us? Sure, we have acquired it and have to do so daily, but it’s not because we have money in savings or a retirement waiting or money in kids’ college accounts. No, our financial “peace” comes from the Prince of Peace alone. Sounds cliché, but it’s FOR REAL STUFF, my friends.

myprovider

If you, reader, are thinking to yourself, “Wow, these Weimers must be doing something wrong. They must be irresponsible. They shouldn’t take on so many kids if they can’t pay the bills. This woman is totally OUT OF SHE MIND,” well, first of all, I’m surprised you even read this far. And God bless you for doing so, truly, but this message might be like a foreign language to you. If that’s you, then you need read no further than this: Pray for us and others and ask God what He wants from your life. The end.

If, though, everything I’ve said resonates with you because you GET IT, you’ve been there and you’re even there right now, well, to you I say, PRESS ON. Do not pick up the Word of God, read about the homelessness of Jesus, the shipwrecks and imprisonments of Paul, the wanderings in the wilderness, the manna-gathering of even God’s most precious people, and think you should not have the same. Why should you say YES to Jesus and NOT expect financial troubles or hardships? If Jesus had “no place to lay His head” and Paul had to “learn the secret to being content” even when he was living in need, then surely it’s time for us to realize that maybe our financial lack is not a sign that God has abandoned us but rather that He is right in front of us as we are following Him into the unknown!

I don’t care what your bank account looks like, because frankly, ours is looking bleak. I don’t care what the bill collectors say, because honestly, they won’t shut up. I don’t care what cars break down, what appliances need repaired, what needs might come your way even today, because JESUS KNOWS. IF you are following hard after Him and are hurting financially in ways you know you would not had you NEVER said YES to Him, consider yourself BLESSED, my friend! He is entrusting you not only with His Kingdom, but with Himself. He is calling you to follow Him in ways that many will never understand. He is feeding you by His manna because HE LOVES YOU. He knows that the moment you are self-sufficient is the moment you no longer need Jesus daily or even hourly, and that’s the moment His visible glory in your life fades. He wants you to consider it a privilege to eat of His manna because He has chosen you to follow in this precise way.

IF you are reading this post and nodding in agreement or even holding your face over a tear-drenched keyboard or iPad, because you understand every word I’ve written, I have some words of encouragement and counsel for you today, because we get it. We’ve been there. In fact, we have been living there like never before.

No Buds? No Cattle? No problem.

First, do not envy those who seem to have no earthly worries. Jesus tells us that they have their rewards in full. The Psalmist admonishes us:

“Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper— they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.” -Psalm 49:16

Along those lines, do not begrudge others who seemingly say YES to Jesus and do find earthly ease. If their prosperity is from God, that’s between them and God. If their prosperity is not from God, well, that’s also between them and God. And after all, it’s God who assigns our lots in life. For some (a few) He has indeed granted wealth, but for most He has simply given faith and His face.

Second, keep your face in the Word and in prayer. Ask God to search your heart. Are you seeking Jesus because you were hoping for an earthly reward, a payback in the form of a literal paycheck? Are you saying YES to Him with the unknown, but expecting Him to make you self-reliant? Are you making Him Lord of your will, but not of your financial fears? Are you depending on Him to lead you in the course of your life, but not to pay your bills? It makes no sense to trust Him as Lord over your calling but then take the reins and worries for the provision.

Third, stop looking at the temporary and constructing your theology based on it. Either God is who He says He is, or He’s a total liar. He doesn’t perform miracles in your family and then abandon His work. He truly does provide for that to which He has called us. He cannot NOT do it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He can certainly spare a few for you. So, when it feels like the grassy hill over there has more than its fair share of fattened cows while your ugly heifer is bone-thin and wandering in search of some weeds, trust Him. Your financial weakness doesn’t make Him a liar; it makes Him able. Believe Him.

We have all heard Matthew 6 and we love to quote it to others as words of encouragement. But do you not believe Him when He says not to worry? Do your doubt and fear label Him a liar because He hasn’t shown up like you thought He should or would?

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
 
Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

 

 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

 

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. -Matthew 6:25-34 (The Message)

Fourth, seek His face, not His manna. Sure, He could turn your economic woes around tomorrow. He could cause a plentiful to fill your plate next week. But we don’t seek it. We seek Him. A danger of having what seems like too little is that we can end up fixating on money just as much as if we had more than enough. Either way, money is our god. Jesus warns us that we cannot serve two masters, that we “cannot serve both God and money.” So, if worries over money have captured your thoughts, you have stopped serving Him; you’re following your finances (or lack thereof). Recenter your focus now. Place your money on the altar—both the abundance and the absence, the bounty and the barren.

Fifth, continue in giving and generosity. God is even more pleased when you give out of your lack and sacrifice than out of your surplus. It does not go unseen by Him. Continue to bless others even in your hardship. Give your last two cents.

Sixth, stop being ashamed of what you think God hasn’t done in your finances and start boasting about what He has! Stop being embarrassed by your lot and start bragging about your God! Don’t know where to start? Let me help you out. In the past five years for three adoption processes, God has provided over $80,000 without us incurring a single penny of debt. In addition, we paid for our 15-passenger DreamCloud Beauty with cash. We were able to send our beloved daughter to treatment for over a year at the cost of $50,000, and while we still owe a chunk of it, God paid her expenses through the gifts of others (many strangers) and will continue to foot that bill. We moved into a house that fits all thirteen of us with plenty of room to spare. (We got it at such a steal that we pay very little more than we did in our last house that was half its size.) We have cars that are quite old but very much paid for. We have been blessed by the hand-me-downs from so many others who bring just the right clothes at just the right time. (For example, a couple years ago, one of our boys needed new Size 14 pants. I told him to pray because God would provide. Three weeks later, someone unexpectedly, without knowing our specific need, dropped off three enormous garbage bags full of clothes…including two bags of, you guessed it, Size 14 pants.) We have been graced by the Grocery Fairy on more than one occasion, bringing the exact foods we had just run out of and didn’t have the means to replace. Over the years many have sent grocery gift cards or checks in the mail, simply because God whispered it in their hearts. Ashamed of what we lack? NEVER. We boast in a God who is never lacking! 

Finally, praise Him. Start now and don’t stop. Even if circumstances never change. Even if you can’t pay the bills. Even if college isn’t an option. Even if you retire and have nothing. Even if all financial hell continues to break loose. Praise Him. Worship Him. Give Him applause for who He is.

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

-Habakkuk 3:17-18

Or, in other words, “though the salary doesn’t increase and there is no financial plan for tomorrow, though the cars break down and the refrigerator needs refilling (again), though there is no money in the savings account or even in the checking, and the bills are unrelenting, YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior, my faithful provider, my giver of life and purpose and my only reward” (Hab. 3:17-18, OOSM-Out of She Mind Version).

Perhaps your non-budding fig tree isn’t a sign of failure. Perhaps it isn’t cause for worry, nor reason for you to fear and fret. Perhaps your cattle-less barn is a sign that you’re doing everything right, that He is in fact pleased and proud, that He sees your faithfulness, and that He will reward you with Himself.

Forgive us, Jesus, for living otherwise, for saying YES to you only to demand and expect an earthly expansion, for envying our friends and neighbors who are self-sufficient, for craving a life that takes you off your throne so that we can feel satisfied in ourselves today. Forgive us. Be our manna. Be our today. Be our moment. AMEN.

{And to my readers, Congratulations for reading to the finish. Now go bust open that change jar and get an ice cream for your efforts. You earned it.}

10 thoughts on “When Your Fig Tree Doesn’t Have Any Freaking Buds and the Cattle Have All Left the Building

  1. Melanie Holaway

    Wow. I just read your blog for the first time. You are a great writer! Do you happen to do any public speaking for women’s groups?

    Reply

  2. Nancy

    Beautiful, Heidi! Well done once more! Though my fig tree isn’t budding and my barn is pretty much empty still, my heart is full to over-flowing! Thank you! (You know how much that passage means to me.)

    Reply

  3. Courtney

    Heidi, thank you so much for sharing the wonderful insight & perspective God has given you, it is such an encouragement and blessing! I have lived in the place where my fig tree doesn’t have any buds and the cattle are long gone my whole life, my parents are missionaries. Even when it doesn’t look like He’s providing because our bank accounts are still next to empty (or empty), no one in my family has had a full time job in 2-3 years, our stuff keeps falling apart and the bills are pouring in, He provides it all. Our Christian friends suddenly have an old car they can give us right when ours are beyond repair and our 21-year-old A/C unit, which we desperately need in Florida, didn’t break until AFTER my mom was given a full time job after a 2 year search for one, through circumstances that only could’ve been from God. And when things I was dealing with in my life had me crying out to God for help, a stranger who is a brother in Christ came up to me in our local Christian bookstore and quoted Scripture to me, prayed with me and told me exactly what I needed to hear, even though I didn’t know what exactly I needed to hear. God gave me back the peace, joy, trust in Him and desire to keep following Him and growing in my faith that I had let my circumstances make me lack. And He showed me (again) that He is good all the time! 🙂
    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

    Reply

  4. Tony Clow

    That was just great! Came across your page by typing, my fig tree wont bud. This was about an actual fig tree I have that has produced abundantly the last two years. Press on towards the the ultimate goal.Jesus is the reward. Praise him for all things. .

    Reply

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