|Wasted Figs in the Hood|
We live in an over-abundant world. God, in His infinite wisdom and eternal love has made it that way. He has made it so we have more than enough, right here on earth. We have the makings of paradise if we would just look around us with "eyes to see". We don't need to fret about material needs, because we have all that we need. Do you believe it? In the Holy Scriptures, Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus tells us:
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
|A fig tree on A Street in East Oakland|
I went to church this past Sunday and was excited and anticipating the preached Word being delivered by our friend, the Rev Dr. T. Dewitt Smith, Jr., of Trinity Baptist Church of Metro Atlanta, Georgia. He's a preacher who can peel the paint off the walls of the church with his delivery and power, so I was looking forward to being in the company of the saints and listening to a Word from the Lord.
As I was driving and took my exit at Edwards off the 580 Freeway and came down the hill and made my way into deeper East Oakland, I looked around the hood as I always do. Maybe I was checking to see if things were in place generally speaking. So much goes on in the mean E. 14th St. between 73rd and 90th Avenues. E. 14th is also known as International Blvd, a euphemism that mostly doesn't work. There is so much pain and hopelessness here, both imposed by others and self inflicted. But at the early hour of 8:00 am, it's relatively quiet. I continue driving along the boulevard and turn right at 85th Ave, where the solid rock of Allen Temple Baptist Church sits, an oasis in the midst of the desert, or not, depending on who you're talking to.
I drive down a block and make another right on "A" Street and pull up to my normal parking place around the corner from the church. It's a cool little space that's available to me most of the time, in spite of the many cars parked all around. This neighborhood usually fills up with the beautiful cars of the church family, an overflow from three modest parking areas for the church. Allen Temple takes over the area within a two block radius with the kinds of cars that silently speak of having made it out of this hood - Mercedes Benzes, Range Rovers, Jaguars, and the occasional Cadillac.
So my little parking place is so cool and mostly available, because it's in front of the driveway of an abandoned house. I've been able to get this space because many of the church folks don't realize the place is abandoned. But I'm in the know, and I pull to the curb, partially blocking the driveway. Now , I only have a block to walk to the church. Ghetto perks, I suppose.
As I was parking this day, for the first time I notice a fig tree in the front yard of this house, by this garage. This tree has already dropped its fruit and is now approaching the end of its season. I thought it was strange that I hadn't noticed this tree before now. It's not like it's hidden. So I glanced at it and was struck by the huge amount of figs that were covering the garage driveway and the ground under the tree. There were at least a hundred figs! All wasted and rotting. I decided that this is one of those strange paradoxes of life. I lamented to myself, then went on into the sanctuary and forgot about it.
Later in the week, I thought about it again and an analogy came to my mind. The wasted fruit in the hood, laying there rotting and unused is like so many of the people in the hood. Too often, because of the difficulties of life, they believe and accept whatever negatives they were told about themselves and their circumstances. Too often because they don't get the proper love and care and positive affirmation, the negative things of life influence them and stunt their spiritual growth. Because they don't know any better, and have no one to carry them to the pool of knowledge, they accept the narrow confines of their wrong thinking. Because no one will put in the work of convincing them that they can overcome the negatives of life, they accept these narrow confines as inevitable. When people - family, friends, associates and loved ones tell them and show them the lie that life is hopeless, and when there is no one there to bring forth the truth, then they believe the lie. Consequently the spiritual light of life goes out and they fall victim, lay wasted, their talents and beauty dropped to the ground and slowly rotting away until the end. What a tragedy!
I went back to the place by the church where the fig tree is and took a few pictures of it. I can't help but think how sweet and delectable figs are, and how nutritious, healing and cleansing they are to our bodies. Figs are known to help in lower blood pressure, and fig leaves are known to lower the amount of insulin needed by diabetics. God has given us the food and medicine we need and in his love and attention to detail for us, he has made the medicine delicious!
I've noticed that the city of Oakland is filled to capacity with trees. There are so many fruit trees in this city, it's not even funny. My neighborhood the Fruitvale District is even named after the trees. Here's a thought: If we as a community across this city would harvest the fruit of all of the trees, and distribute this fruit to families in need at little or no cost, we could put a dent in hunger and sickness in this city, killing two birds with one stone. Of course this is something that would need the cooperation of the residents of this city all working in together in harmony and love.
As well for the people struggling to survive emotionally speaking, if we would make a point of blessing the lives of people around us, freely giving love and hugs and words of encouragement to the people we come in contact with, even if we believe they don't deserve it, we could help turn around the sadness of wasted potential in the lives of so many people in deep East Oakland. Amazingly, God has given us an endless supply of love. The more we spend the more God gives to us, so that we can never run out.
The world is full of abundance. Do you believe it?