I’ve been told it was a common practice in ancient Israel to worship God while sitting under a fig tree. This explains what happened when Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus . . .
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” (John 1:47–48)
Nathanial had no idea that the One he worshiped was standing before him, but Jesus knew it and He knew Nathanial’s heart. He ‘saw’ that he was not a shrewd, deceptive, or crafty person. If Jesus was looking for character qualities in making His choices of disciples, this man had integrity.
Chambers takes a bit of a leap to apply this. He connects what Nathanael was doing before Jesus came along to what we do in our ‘hidden, personal, worshiping life’ before a big event. He then concludes that those big events, usually involving crisis, reveals the stuff we are made of.
This is often our experience, but Chambers adds that most people imagine being given what we need in that big crisis, but says “the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us.”
His main idea is that if we are doing the right things in the ordinary days, then when God brings us into a crisis situation, we will rise to the occasion, but if not, then we will be revealed as unfit, because the crises always reveals character. However, sometimes the crisis reveals something else.
I’m reminded of Corrie Ten Boom who relates her concern as a child that she would not be able to handle the events of life. Her father reminded her about their train rides and how she received her ticket just when she needed it. He said God was like that and would give her what she needed at the time she needed it.
Private worship is important, but I do not agree that the onus is on me for victory in trials. Chambers seems to suggest I must earn or deserve enabling grace by having good habits in personal worship, but my question to this idea is: who is my Savior?
Like Corrie’s father, my experience with any crisis is that God comes to my rescue. Sometimes those challenges reveal a need in my life, yet victory never depends on me, but on the Lord Jesus Christ who lives in me.
Some people might say, ‘I can’t be expected to live the sanctified life in the circumstances I am in; I have no time for praying just now, no time for Bible reading, my opportunity hasn’t come yet; when it does, of course I shall be all right.’
Of course they will struggle in trials, and perhaps that trial might help them get their devotional life in order, but our ability to stand firm is not our ability. It is a gift from Jesus. No matter how ‘well prepared’ I might be, trials always catch me by surprise, are always beyond my capacity, and I’m always surprised when God brings me through them anyway.