The peonies in our yard are spectacular. Honestly, Diane and I were surprised because they’ve been blah the last few years. Maybe the slow coming of spring, maybe something else, but they are gorgeous this year. And no, we didn’t fertilize; it was just God’s nature.
It’s a close-to-home reminder of a story Jesus told. “And he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9).
The refusal of Israel to heed Jesus’ call to repentance could have brought immediate judgment from God, but Jesus pleaded that they be spared a little longer. Today we apply the text to ourselves. “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
“Fruitful trees, the Spirit’s tending, / May we grow till harvests cease;
Till we taste, in life unending, / Heaven’s love and joy and peace.
(Lutheran Service Book, 691, 4)
Admiring the peonies, we move from sight to faith. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).