Patience in Planting
I’m not very patient. It’s not that I don’t desire this fruit of the Spirit. I do. However, it’s often borne through perseverance in adversity, so it admittedly hasn’t been top on my prayer list.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one. We live in an age of fast food. We’ve come to expect next day delivery. We want instant results.
This expectation can influence our Christian witness. Recently I’ve heard several Christians ask,
“Does it really do any good? We just don’t see the results.”
It’s easy to become discouraged and give up.
I believe God gives us pictures in his creation to teach us. One that I’ve been fascinated with is Chinese bamboo. After planting, it takes five years before you see any evidence of growth. This is because the growth during this time is unseen, beneath the surface. In the fifth year, however, this bamboo grows dramatically. In 6 weeks it will grow an average of 90 feet. That’s over 2 feet per day!
That picture is particularly important to remember as we reach out to Mormons. Ex-LDS members have repeatedly told us that they concealed their faith crisis until the day they left Mormonism. Their doubts and questions were increasing. They describe how different Christian witnesses made significant impressions along the way. Yet, the impact was unseen, beneath the surface.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. We are, after all, dealing with spiritual matters. Faith can only be seen by God.
I’m not claiming that it is easy to have patience. That may be especially true when the one you’re trying to reach is your spouse, your child or a dear friend. You want to see immediate results. I could share more than a few examples of well-intentioned Christians who burned bridges along the way. Desperate for results, they trusted in their own persuasion rather than the power of God.
Paul wrote: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). God uses people like you along the way. It’s a joy to be a part of that process. Some plant seeds. Some water. But he alone has the power to make that seed come to life.
You may see growth or you may not. You may not even see results until heaven. Regardless, keep your eyes focused on the one who alone carries the power.
So plant cheerfully because God works through our humble efforts. Water with patience because his word does not return to him empty. (Isaiah 55:11) Witness with great courage trusting that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)