Nature teaches us so many wonderful truths. Some of them are easy to accept while others are more difficult to grasp. I believe one of the greatest challenges I have ever experienced in my own personal life is being willing to accept the fact that genuine, solid growth is slow. Fast growth is always more exciting to me! I think almost everyone would agree that it seems logical to want to see our lives grow quickly, so that we feel as though we are making progress rather than going nowhere.
Sometimes, however, the feeling of going nowhere is very necessary. Think about it for just a minute. In the springtime, when the leaves begin to open on the trees, we know that it is time for them to bring forth new life. But, what has been taking place over the winter months? You guessed it – slow growth. The growth has not primarily been upwards toward the sky; it has been downward, deep in the earth. It is during the cold winter months, as the trees search for nourishment, that the roots go down deepest. Yet, at the same time, the tree is getting stronger because it is developing a deep root system that will sustain it during the coming months and years. The slow growth that takes place in the winter gives a tree the strength it will need to face the storms and strong winds that will surely come in the spring and summer months.
Here in Georgia, there are basically two kinds of trees: pines and oaks. Every time there is a storm in the spring, you can look around and see the pines scattered all over the ground. They snap in the strong winds because they are so flimsy. Often, people will go to great lengths and expense to have pine trees removed from their property so that they do not fall on their houses in times of storm.
The other kind of tree here is the big oak. It usually withstands all sorts of storms because it is so strong. It takes much longer to grow an oak tree than it does a pine. Every time I look at the majestic oak, I think, “That is what I want to be like.”
But the tree illustration is not limited to pines and oaks. There are other trees that teach us this great truth about slow growth as well, and none is more important than the Chinese bamboo.
Seeds for the Chinese bamboo tree are planted in a wet marsh land and fertilized. Then they are left alone. During the second year, the bamboo is fertilized again, even though no apparent growth has taken place. During the third and fourth years more fertilizer is applied to the bamboo, but to the casual observer it seems to be a hopeless task. Nothing seems to be happening at all. Then in the fifth year, suddenly something does happen! Because there has been so much care given to the bamboo, it comes out of the ground and begins to grow. Before the season is over it will grow 90 feet!
Now, here’s the question: Did the Chinese bamboo grow 90 feet in the fifth year? Or, did it grow 90 feet in five years? I think you get the point. The growth would never have occurred without all of the seed planting, nourishment, fertilizer, sunshine and water during those five years. It looks like the rapid growth only occurred in that fifth year, but the person who planted the seeds for the Chinese bamboo and cared for them during those five years can tell you otherwise. It is a SLOW process!
Let me encourage you to look at the slow growth process in your own life in this new way. It is necessary if you want your roots to go deeper. It is necessary if you want to grow stronger and become more fruitful.
It has been quite an adjustment for me to re-think this concept, but I have found it to be an important truth in my own personal life and I am sure you will find it helpful to you as well.
Tip: There is purpose in slow growth!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm