Jesus was hungry one morning on the road back from Bethany. He saw a solitary fig tree in the distance, but found only leaves on it and no fruit when he went up to it. It was not the season for figs.
Angrily he said “May you never bear fruit again!” Quickly the fig tree withered and the disciples were amazed. They asked him how it was possible for it to wither so quickly.
He said “Nothing is impossible with faith. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can tell a mulberry tree or a mountain to uproot itself and move, even into the sea, and it will. You have to believe that what you ask for will happen and it will. Pray as if you have already received everything you ask for. Also, while you are praying, be sure to forgive anyone that you have a grudge against so that your Father in heaven will forgive you as well. If you don’t forgive them then God won’t forgive you.”
MT 21:18-22, MK 11:12-14, MK 11:20-26, LK 17:6, MT 17:20-21 HCSB
When the Maccabees went to rededicate the Temple they discovered there was only enough oil for one day. This was a problem, because the Temple menorah had to be lit all the time. Making the oil was very difficult and would take at least a week to prepare more. It has been said that it was a miracle that the one bottle of oil that they found was enough to keep the flame burning until more was made.
I think it is a miracle that they went ahead and lit the lamp anyway.
They knew that they didn’t have enough oil and yet they still did what they had to do. They didn’t wait until they had a backup supply in order to get started. They knew how important it was to have that lamp going to honor God.
How many of us hold back, waiting until we have enough to get started? The Maccabees trusted God. They didn’t expect a miracle to occur. They lit the lamp anyway.
Certainly someone was at the task of making more oil. God kept things going until humans could take over. It isn’t that God made that oil last for years. It lasted just long enough until the new supply was ready. It isn’t as if they stopped making the oil when they noticed that it was still going after a few days. They kept on, fulfilling their part of the task. Each did their part – God with a miracle of making the original oil last, and people with their work of making more oil.
This reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. He started back towards his father, and his father ran the rest of the way to him. This is how God treats us. If we make an effort to go towards God, God will more than make up the difference. But we have to do our part too. We have to get started.
We can’t sit around and wait for God to take care of all of our needs. We have to put in the effort. But we also have to use the gifts that God has given us and not hoard them up. We have to trust God and do our part as well.
I wake up thinking
about all I have to do
and all I’ve done
or just there in the moment
but full of thoughts and regrets
and God comes to me
with a blue correction pencil
you know the one
that English teachers use
to point out
all the mistakes
and God draws flowers instead.