And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).

I’ve loved figs ever since I was a boy. My grandma had a little fig orchard on the side of her house, and I would go out on a Sunday during the season and pick the fruit, which she would turn into delicious preserves to spread on her homemade biscuits.

So when we bought our current home, I was delighted to find it had a mature fig tree from which we could harvest and enjoy the succulent, sweet fruit. Hurricane Katrina, even as a Category 1, almost destroyed the tree, but it came roaring back, surely by the grace of God. It’s now so tall that it reaches above the roof line in one place. And we can no longer put a net over the tree to protect the fruit from hungry birds; it’s too big for that now.

The tree endured a storm and will keep on growing, I expect. As my wife pointed out, however, the fruit is fragile. It’s easily crushed. Pick it and leave it on the kitchen counter, and it will mold. Keep it in the fridge too long, and it loses its firmness. The best time to eat figs is right away, as soon as you pick them.

I think love is rather like that fig tree. It will endure all the forces that try to eliminate it from the world, because God is love. As long as God lives, there will be love in the universe. So because God was, and is, and is to come, eternally present, love will never die.

Not so opportunities to love, though. They are much like the figs themselves. We have to love now, capture the sweetness and joy of the moment that will delight like a fresh fig, or the possibility may be gone, like the fruit left out too long. That’s especially true when someone is sick or dying, soon to move away or grow up and change.

Opportunities to show compassion, to care for another, are fragile; they soon lose their “freshness” and are gone. And they may not come to us every day. The time to love is now.

© 2010 Tom Cheatham