“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3
Chinese Bamboo Trees.
You’ve probably never given these amazingly majestic trees a second thought, but I reflect on them often. You see, Chinese bamboo trees don’t grow in the typical fashion that we see in nature – they are quite unique. If you planted one of these trees in your backyard, like any good gardener you would water and fertilize the soil. After a year of doing this, you know what you would see? Nothing. So, the next year you proceed to do the same thing – water and fertilize the soil – and you know what your reward would be? A patch of dirt, still showing no signs of life. Year three? Same. Year four? Ditto!
Now assuming you haven’t thrown in the towel and dropped a rose bush in its place, something fascinating would occur. For four years, while you were looking at dirt, some amazing things were going on beneath the surface: roots were stretching out, the base was getting stronger. And, in the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree would finally break ground. Not only break ground, but in just over a month the beautiful tree would shoot up to a height of 90 feet!
I know what you’re thinking, “well, who has time for that?!” And therein lays the challenge of our walk as believers.
One of the prerequisites to a fruitful life with Christ is FAITH. It is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Yet, how many times does God give us a promise and we sit in the backseat with our arms crossed and whine “are we there yet?” How often do we throw in the towel too early on the righteous walk and choose our own way? “Well, who has time for that, God?”
I want prosperity, NOW.
I want a relationship, NOW.
I want the “good life”, NOW.
Well, you can have “NOW”, and it may look really good, but “good” (or even great) will never come close to the extraordinary promise of God. So if you want “God”, it’s going to require three things: faith, patience, and persistence.
Faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” This means that the word of truth that is planted in you needs the nourishment of a godly life. It needs you to keep removing the weeds of doubt and sin. Even when you cannot see the “reward”, you must proceed with confidence knowing that what you hope for will spring forth in due time.
Patience. I know…nobody likes this word. But when Habakkuk flat out tells us that the vision “seems slow”, it almost guarantees that waiting is in the mix. Honestly, this is not one of my strengths. But, I have had some pretty significant “waits” in my life (more on those in another writing), and I can say that God’s way beats our way every single time.
Persistence. This is where being stubborn is a good thing! We have to be stubborn about following God’s lead. Paul said, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14). The analogy of the race is a great one; because if there is ever a time when a person is laser focused it’s during a race. No other task matters. The runner’s path has already been laid out for him – from the starting block he is determined to finish strong.
How about you? Are you determined to finish strong or are you going to settle for a quick fix?
Yes, it’s going to take some faith. No, you haven’t gotten there yet. But, find a way to keep the vision before you and keep tilling the ground.
Yes, it’s going to take some patience. Use this time to get your “house” in order. Instead of distracting yourself, use the “wait” productively to prepare yourself so that you are ready when the promise does arrive.
Yes, it’s going to take persistence. God is who he says He is. We have to be convinced of this truth in order to receive the full benefit of His promise.
And when you start getting discouraged, think of the Chinese bamboo tree. A miraculous promise awaits you on the other side.
God, your promises are true. We have seen this time and time again. Help me live out the “mean time” in a way that prepares my heart and life for the promises You have before me. I stand on faith knowing that what You said will come to fruition. I live in patience. I do not want to disrupt or cut off Your plans for my life. Show me how to arrange my walk so that it is in step with Your path. And when obstacles and discouragement comes, I will persistently cling to You word. I will press toward the mark and I WILL receive my heavenly prize in Christ Jesus. Amen.