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This is the second of the stories in a book I am writing called SIGNS.

Philip and I didn't really have a fight or even a quarrel, but it was certainly a separation of some kind. I suppose he just got tired of my discontent. But I miss seeing him. We both grew up on the south end of the Sea of Galilee. He was from Bethsaida. And I came from a little fishing village near there. We both came to Capurniam to make a living. But things are different here. We were both outsiders to some extent. And we naturally hit it off. Someone who grew up in Jerusalem would probably not see any difference from the south end of the sea to the north. But the differences are real. Here they usually call the sea Tiberius. That was a little hard to get used to. The nearness to Ft. Tiberius is a bigger problem. The whole country is under the thumb of Rome, but this near the fort we are always in danger. Soldiers dominate everything. 

In the South we were surrounded by Syrians. But the two groups pretty much left one another alone. Here we almost have to become Romans. We all speak more Greek more than Hebrew. To operate a stall in the market we have to understand some Latin. In the synagogue I am not sure whether we are Galileans trying to become Greeks or Romans pretending to be Jews. It hardly feels like we are the people of God. Philip of course agrees with all this, but he gets tired of my complaining about everything. And I guess I have been a lot worse lately. What has really been bothering me is wondering where God is. I mean, if we are still chosen by God, why does He seem so far away?

Today, I just had to get alone and pray about it. I could not go to our synagogue. I didn't want a rabbi questioning me about my feelings and warning me not to blaspheme. There is a fig tree near where I live that I go to sometimes when I want to be alone. The figs on it are small and dry. No one wants them. But the leaves are thick this time of year. It not only shades me from the sun but hides me from prying eyes. I crawled under its branches and poured out my grievances to God.

I ended by asking, “Do you care about me God? Do you even see me? Have you forgotten Israel? Are we still your chosen people?” I stayed there in my hiding place for about an hour. Then I crawled back out into the hot sun.

I was stretching myself from squatting under the tree when I saw Philip. I thought about going the other way, but he had seen me. 

“Nathaniel,” he called, “I have the answer to everything that has been bothering us. We have found the one Moses and the prophets wrote about! Jesus, the son of Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth.” I had never been impressed with people in the mountain villages above Capurniam.

I said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply told me to come and meet him myself. So I went along with him. We came down to the sea and saw a group of men sitting on rocks near the shore. I recognized several of them. Some of the men were from around Bethsaida. Jesus, the man Philip was bringing me to meet was holding the attention of the others. He looked up as we approached.

He looked right at me and said. “Look everyone. Here is an Israelite who is honest in the depths of his soul.”

I asked him, “How do you know me at all?”

Jesus said, “Before Philip called you, Nathaniel, I saw you under the fig tree.” I fell to my knees before him. 

When I was able to speak I said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel!”

"Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?” Jesus said. “You will see greater things than this. I am telling you the truth. You will see Heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man.”

“I don't know what we will yet see, but only the Son of God could see my heart and hear my private prayers.”

This story is based on Nathaniel's encounter with Jesus recorded in John 1:43-51



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Comment by David Young on November 12, 2020 at 7:52pm

Bless you, Malva.

Comment by Malva Birch on November 12, 2020 at 4:47pm

Thank You God, that You see our hearts and hear our private prayers. You are the God who sees, Lagai Roi. Thank You that the time will come that we will see heaven opened. We can't wait!

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