Updated: Feb 16
I was given a plant quite a few years ago. It was a small clip that my friend cut off her own huge plant. She planted it in a small pot and gave it to me. I was delighted. I love greenery in my home and I loved the ceramic pot she had put it in. Because it was just a baby I knew it was going to require some TLC (tender loving care), so I positioned the plant on my kitchen sink counter top. There, I would see it and remember to water it and to set it in the sun. (I have never claimed to have a green thumb.)
Many, many weeks passed. I cared for the plant, doing all the things I knew I was supposed to to promote its’ growth, but I saw no difference. In fact, it looked a little poorly. Certainly not quite as perky as the day it came to me. I was disappointed. But, because I am a persistent person, I continued to baby the thing along. I was never one to give up easily.
Fast forward a few more months. I find myself in the kitchen cooking dinner and eyeing that plant. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t feel such warm, fuzzy feelings for it as I once did. Truth be told, I was quite exasperated with the whole deal. It sounds rather silly now, but at the time I felt like I’d been cheated. After all, I had invested quite a bit of time and effort into this stupid thing and had got nothing in return. All those good intentions just kind of flopped onto the floor, splat, like a big ball of yucky, spreading and oozing out of its’ parameters. Yet, I forged onward. I scraped the yucky off the floor and disposed of it filling the hole it left with a more positive determination not to be beat.
More time wore on. I had been in possession of the plant for over a year now. Despite what I tried it still looked a little bit wilted. And it still had no signs of new growth anywhere. “That’s it!”, I exclaimed aloud to the plant while the four kitchen walls listened in. “I’ve had it! You’re going for a ride!” Without hesitation, I took a step forward and reached for the plant to chuck it, pot and all, into the trash can. It was at that moment that the Lord opened my eyes. Or should I say my understanding? I didn’t “see” anything different and I didn’t hear him say anything, but somehow I just knew, deep within me, the lesson He wanted me to learn through this mostly unpleasant situation.
Somehow I became aware of the fact that that plant was growing! I couldn’t see any evidence of growth, but I knew in my spirit that growth was taking place under the surface of the soil, deeper down where I couldn’t see. And, it was happening at that very moment! Suddenly I had great hope that someday, hopefully soon, I would actually see the fruit of my labor. I stopped, stock-still in my tracks as my tears began flow. I now saw that my God was a lot more patient and long suffering than I had ever given him credit for. I saw his mercy and compassion in deeper depths than I ever had before. I remembered that since He takes care of the plants of the fields and the birds of the air, how much more will He care for me! I suddenly recognized my own impatience. Impatience for others and impatience with myself.
After weeks (or sometimes months) of working along side a Christian brother or sister, mentoring, counseling, praying for them, why don’t I see any growth?!!! Aren’t they heeding my advice? And if not, why am I wasting my time?! I’d be better off investing my time in someone who really wants to grow and change.
My heart was shattered.
My God, in all his mercy and Grace, in all his love and kindness, was still right there with me, patiently waiting to see my growth. Not once in 42 years has he come close to throwing me in the trash can. He just keeps nurturing me as long as I need it. I want to remember that so I can be encouraged. He plainly taught me that if I am looking for growth in myself I might just have to look below the soil. But one day green leaves will push through into the Light.
God, more than anything, help me to not only remember that for others, but to let it become who I am. Not impatient and exasperated when I don’t see the growth in others, (or myself) but instead kind, patient, nurturing, loving, and expectant. Expectant because someday they too will shoot up through the soil. They too will reach higher for the Light. Who am I to think that they aren’t worth the time? Dear God, just as King David cried,
Have mercy on me, O God.