In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. ... Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. —Micah 4:1, 4 NIV
“Why can’t people just be content to sit at their own table and drink their own coffee?” my father-in-law asked me in exasperation one day. He couldn’t understand the consumer mentality of our country. People seem to always need a better car and a bigger house and the newest iPhone. He was a machinist by profession, and he built his modest ranch home on weekends with his own hands and tools, taking out a loan only for materials. His brother-in-law helped, and Dad and his wife waited patiently until all was in order and they could move in.
Once they had moved in, he was all set for life. They both were. They raised three children in that house and then welcomed me and other additions as we came along. Our two girls grew up enjoying visits to that ranch home and proudly brought their own children to visit my father-in-law at a time when he lived alone with his cat and his memories in the simple home he had built. When he finally had to leave his home and move in with us at the age of 92, he brought his own table and coffee maker, and we made his space look as much like his old kitchen as we could. Dad sat and sipped his coffee at the same table where he had enjoyed his coffee for over fifty years … and he was content.
That was all he needed.
Of course, many, many people around the globe would love to have a table to sit at and money to buy coffee. What seems modest to some of us seems extravagant to others. But there’s something simple and “right” about being content to sit at one’s own table and feel that what one has is enough.
The Bible uses the phrase, “under their own vine and under their own fig tree,” in our Scripture passage today with the implication that to have the luxury of sitting unafraid in a place of one’s own is the height of success and well-being for humans on planet Earth. After all, if you have a vine and a fig tree, you have sustenance right on your property. If they are growing and living, you are not living in a time of famine or drought. If they belong to you, you have a “place” in this world to call your very own.
As I think about it, that’s really a good deal. More of us who have tables to sit at and food and drink to enjoy should receive such blessings with overflowing gratitude—regardless of whether someone else has a bigger fig tree. To be content with enough is a rare and wonderful kind of happiness. Acquiring bigger and better things might bring a momentary endorphin rush, but ultimately leaves one wanting the next rush. Seeing what you have and marveling at the hugeness of the gift of place and peace is a much more satisfying way to live.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds. Our sense of place here on earth is so fragile. Storms, wars, banks, and illnesses can all take from us our “fig trees and our vines.” If we are so totally blessed today to have our own little place at the table to sip our coffee or tea, let’s be filled with gratitude. Let’s not worry about whether we’ll still have it tomorrow and thereby forfeit the joy and peace of enjoying it today.
Then, when we think of tomorrow, let’s remember that someday we will have a permanent place to dwell, as Micah puts it in our verse, where “no one will make [us] afraid.” One of my favorite promises of Jesus is found in John 14, and I love how the Amplified Bible renders it:
Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. —John 14:1-3 AMP
One day we will leave our failing earthly bodies and be clothed in our new and imperishable bodies—and we will be given our own dwelling places! Jesus loves us so much that He has gone ahead of us to prepare places created especially with us in mind. Just as God lovingly designed the earth and gave it to Adam and Eve to steward, so He will design dwelling places for those who put their trust and faith in Him. Some days, I can hardly wait to see all He has in store for us! A time will come when each of us who are His—from the poorest among us to the richest—will dwell in safety, unafraid, and fully satisfied under our own fig trees and grape vines. In the meantime, let’s be thankful for all that we have even now here on this imperfect planet where we reside.
Dear Father, forgive me when I crave more instead of looking with awe at all I do have. Forgive me when I take for granted clean water and sturdy shelter. Give me a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, Lord. You give us so very much, and we are too often oblivious to the richness right in front of us. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the promise of Heaven and a dwelling place of our own with You someday! In Your Name, Amen.
You are loved,
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