My friend was shaking his head. “I should have known better,” he said. I followed his gaze to a withered tree over 18 feet tall. It held no leaves, its bark was unhealthy, and the tree had a lean that had transformed his house into a crutch for the branches.
“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.
“It’s a Bradford. They are fast-growing, pretty trees, but they don’t last more than 15 years. A 15-year old Bradford is old.” I had no idea. (I was still an apartment dweller at the time and trees of ANY kind were outside of my near-term hopes.) Standing in Dave’s yard that day, I learned much about trees, age, growth, and expectations.
“Look at that oak tree across the field,” he said. “That oak tree is 40 feet tall and probably over 100 years old. It took 100 years to build that size, but it’s hardy and it builds deep roots that support it for decades. This Bradford is a soft-wood tree. It puts out quick roots and puts on quick size, but its life passes by on high-speed, as well. Deep roots, slow and steady growth–that’s the ticket to trees that will be a blessing to your grandchildren.”
Obviously, this conversation made an impression on me. It seems like yesterday. Trees take time. What I have come to realize since that day is a similar principle. . .
PEOPLE take time to grow and mature, too. Spiritual maturity doesn’t happen overnight. Deep faith doesn’t come in an instant. Resilience to temptation, to ambition, to selfishness and lust and anger are all possible because we grow deep roots in the Holy Spirit’s resources. We tap into the truth of God’s Word and the Psalmist says our lives change.
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV)
I long to be a spiritual OAK, not just a quick spurt of growth. I want to provide shade for the spiritual nourishment of my children and grandchildren. But that is a steady growth that will be nearly invisible to me. My children will see it. My friends will see it. Most importantly, the Lord will see it. THAT is my hope. Is it yours?