There are times in life when things just don't seem like they are working out for you, times when everything you touch "seems" to go wrong. I say "seems" in quotes because even though things look like they are going terribly wrong, it doesn't always translate to negative results. The thing is, as human beings we want so much to get results as soon as we want them that patience has become a foreign term/word in our vocabulary.
This week I've had such an experience, in fact, let me call them experiences. Nothing has been going right for me (or so it seems). I've been hitting walls and snugs everywhere I've gone. Owing to the urgency of the issues I've been dealing with, things just didn't seem to be going my way. At this point as I was sitting at home feeling desperate, I was reminded of an article I once wrote on my blog, which I will now share with you.
Imagine a situation where you take a little seed, plant it, water it, and apply fertilizer on it for a whole year, but nothing happens.The second year you water it and still do the fertilizer thing, and still nothing happens.The third year you water it and still continue adding fertilizer, but nothing is happening. How discouraging this becomes, especially considering that the cost of everything (including fertilizer) has gone up!
The fourth year you do the same, but nothing seems to be happening. By this time I am sure you must be very frustrated. Actually at this point if you are still faithfully watering the seed and taking care of it, I commend you for your patience! It's the fifth year and you are still continuing with your routine religiously. Still, nothing seems to be happening. Then suddenly, you see some activity. The seed germinates and the Chinese bamboo tree spouts and grows NINETY FEET IN SIX WEEKS!
At this point I wonder, did the tree grow in six weeks or has it been growing all this time (5 years)?
Now, can you picture the dude who has been watering and taking care of the seed for all this time? 5 years? If I was him, I think somewhere along the way I would have started doubting myself… I’d probably think I forgot where the seed was planted!
On the other hand, I can almost see his neighbours wondering what he does every morning, speaking amongst themselves in low-tones wondering whether the guy is loony, or whether he has some rituals he performs to his ancestors every day. In some cases, I have a feeling some of those neighbours had even spread the rumours to their friends and relatives, and I would not be surprised if once in a while, his compound became a "tourist" attraction….
One thing I am sure of is that he must have received enough discouraging comments such as “Why are you wasting your time and resources taking care of something that doesn’t seem to be working out for you?” or “how do you know that the seed did not rot and die for good?”… whatever the case, he never gave up on his daily ritual.
What do you think the same neighbours said to him when they saw the massive tree that shot up to Ninety Feet in six weeks? I guess they started viewing him in a different light. I can almost hear some of them saying stuff like, “kumbe he knew what he was doing?”, though am sure others made comments like, “huyu ni mchawi achaneni naye…”
This kinda reminds me of the story of Noah and the Ark. No one believed him when he said what he had been told to do and why he was doing it. He however stuck to his task and eventually the day the ark was done, he did as he was commanded by God and those who were not in the ark all perished….(Genesis Chapter 6 – 9).
I believe faith and trust were key factors as to why both the bamboo guy and Noah of the Ark never faltered in their respective tasks. They both knew what they believed in and they had faith that whatever they knew would happen would eventually happen. (Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”)
Sometimes as Humans we tend to give up when we see that God is taking too long to answer our prayers. Just like the bamboo tree and the ark, sometimes the requests we have for God take (too) long to be accomplished because we need to be well prepared to receive them. In between the time you make your request to God and the time God answers your prayer, there is a waiting period. He uses that time to deal with us in different ways until He is certain we can handle what He gives us.
Sometimes He purposely takes time to respond to our prayers so that “our neighbours” can have ample time to spread “rumors” as far as they can, so that when God does finally come through for us, they will have no choice but to eat humble pie and in the process be touched by what He will have done and their lives will be transformed in the process.
How deep do you think the roots of this bamboo tree go, in order to hold a ninety foot tree? They must have been growing in silence over that period of five (5) years. The seed had to die first, then sprout afresh again, only this time stronger and deeply rooted than ever before.…
The same case applies to those who God has called for His Purpose, which is basically everyone since everyone was born with a purpose. The problem is that so many people are yet to realize their purpose. Once you realize your purpose, it is very likely that you will go through lots of watering and nurturing like the bamboo tree did. You will be unheard/unseen for a long period of time as He works on you from the inside… then when the time is right Boooooom! Ninety feet tall tree…….
This week as we reflect on the story of the Chinese bamboo I'd like us to consider this virtue: patience. Like someone said before, "trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit". Bearing this in mind, I beseech you not to give up on your vision, if you really know and are certain that it is indeed what you should be doing. Keep watering, nurturing and taking care of your seed. The total sum of all those small practices will cause the final outcome which is the NINETY FEET tall Bamboo.
Wishing you all patience today and always.
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 11th May, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"