This story is inspired by John 1:45–51.
Sitting under a tree is a great place to muse and pray. That’s why I, Nathaniel, peered into a cloudless sky through branches dotted with figs and wondered, Does God really see me? My heart felt heavy despite the weather just the way I like it. Sun warmed my face as I looked up and asked, “God, do you see me?”
Thick grass padded my seat as I leaned comfortably on the firm trunk. I breathed in slowly and considered my life up to this moment. What was its direction?
Suddenly rapid footfalls distracted my reverie. It was my best friend, and he was obviously excited. Out of breath, hands on his knees, Philip managed to say excitedly, “We met God’s Messiah! The Son of Man! You have to come with me and see him.”
It took me a moment to grasp what he was saying. “Who’d you find?” I asked.
“Jesus of Nazareth! He’s the one the prophets wrote about, the one who is going to rescue us from evil!” Philip panted.
“You’re kidding, right? Nazareth?” I asked skeptically. My own issues prevented my heart from believing him. “Could salvation really come at a time like this, with such little fanfare, from such a meaningless town?”
Philip insisted, “You’ve got to come and see for yourself! I’m telling you: this man is God’s anointed one, here, in our time!”
I looked up at the struggling figs and shrugged. “Show me the way,” I said.
As I rushed to keep up with Philip, I dared to hope that my reliable friend might be leading me to the Messiah.
“There he is,” whispered Philip, pointing to a small group gathered around a man seated on a rock. We slowed our pace, and Jesus looked up. He smiled at me.
“Did you expect to meet me today?” he asked, as if he already knew me. Turning to the others, he added, “Here’s an honest and sincere man—a true child of Israel.”
“How would you know that?” I asked.
Jesus grinned. “I saw you before Philip did. I saw you sitting under that fig tree.”
It’s hard to find words to describe my emotions at that moment. The One I addressed under the fig tree as I wondered if God knew me or if I knew God, was speaking to me now.
“Philip was right!” I blurted. “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!”
Jesus laughed out loud, and the others stared at me. “Wait ’til you see the amazing events to come! I will be revealing many exciting truths about God’s love and the Reign of God right now among us.”
Speechless, I sat at his feet, amazed that God had chosen to spend time with me.
Yes, God sees me.
- When has a friend brought you good news that you had difficulty receiving?
- What is the good news you most need to hear today?
- What season is your heart in right now? Do you look up through the bare branches of fall, feeling as if the leaves of your life are drying up and you are letting go? Do you feel as if winter’s coldness cloaks you in stillness? Is your life in spring? Have you felt small like a seed, buried by life’s circumstances, but now you’ve sprouted and pushed through, bursting into the sunlight and flowering magnificently? Do you feel it’s summer and a time of restful refreshment, like a good retreat?
- What grace do you need to request in order to feel seen by God?
Image via the Brooklyn Museum. James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey-Buillon, France). Nathaniel Under the Fig Tree (Nathanaël sous le figuier), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 5/16 x 10 7/16 in. (16 x 26.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.59 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.59_PS2.jpg).