a1d4bf8925ffdae5012c3de7320f50f6I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

We camped in Africa’s Zambezi Valley as hyenas yipped about devilish pranks, lions roared with proud grunts, and crocodiles held their deadly silence. But the creation that arrested my attention was a curious tree. Clumps of pale-green leaves looked tired amidst the canopy. Fat shoots ran down the original trunk and fanned to the soil. Two trees melded into one.

Our host explained that it was a strangler fig. It began as a common acacia but a fig tree grew around the host taking over nutrients and water until it assumed the shape of the old tree. The strangler became a verdant habitat for everything from honeybees to monkeys.

I used to be a homely acacia. I had a second-rate existence. Then the Spirit blew his seed into the axis of my branches, the hollow point of my greatest need. The gospel germinated and roots drew up truth. A new form of life grew on top of the old. I still have my unique shape, but now my days are full of abundance. 

Tufts of the original me poke out. They agree in theory the fig self is better, but they won’t volunteer for the upgrade. Each branch, every leaf must be choked then regrown. Fear must expire under the strength of trust, and hatred must die by the hand of love. It’s a slow but needed strangulation of a lesser me.

The fig me stands tall and majestic, but there’s no room for pride in the recreated fruit or the habitat to the hurting. The new life of the fig is the life of Jesus and the boast is in him.

Prayer: Jesus, take over and live strong.

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