The Chinese Bamboo Tree and Other Lessons on Patience
Do you remember back in the 60′s when Simon and Garfunkel sang the 59th Street Bridge song? ( if you remember the 60′s you probably weren’t there…) The duo advised us to “slow down, we move too fast…” What a laugh thinking about the speed of the 60′s compared with how fast we are actually moving today! We live today in an instant results – or else – world.
If a politician doesn’t produce instant results to our liking we boot the bum out and vote in some other bum. If a corporate CEO doesn’t produce an instant turnaround, then that bum is on unemployment too. If the drive through on airport way doesn’t give us fast – fast food we get testy and swear to never go back there again, until next time. It’s a fast pace world we’ve created for ourselves.
Unfortunately, we are trying to live our fast paced lifestyle in what is naturally a slow paced world.
Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker, once told the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It seems that this tree when planted, watered, and nurtured for an entire growing season doesn’t outwardly grow as much as an inch. Then, after the second growing season, a season in which the farmer takes extra care to water, fertilize and care for the bamboo tree, the tree still hasn’t sprouted. So it goes as the sun rises and sets for four solid years. The farmer and his wife have nothing tangible to show for all of their labor trying to grow the tree.
Then, along comes year five.
In the fifth year that Chinese bamboo tree seed finally sprouts and the bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet in just one growing season! Or so it seems….
Did the little tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? The answer is, of course, obvious. Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew. The same principle is true for people. People, who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success, while get-rich- quickers and lottery winners usually are unable to sustain unearned sudden wealth.
Had the Chinese bamboo farmer dug up his little seed every year to see if it was growing, he would have stunted the tree’s growth as surely as a caterpillar is doomed to a life on the ground if it is freed from its struggle inside a cocoon prematurely. The struggle in the cocoon is what gives the future butterfly the wing power to fly, just as tension against muscles as we exercise strengthen our muscles, while muscles left alone will soon atrophy. My problem with exercise is not getting instantly stronger after each work out! I pray for more patience every day and I pray to get it right now!
We live in a quick-fix society. We get frustrated if we have to wait more than 2 minutes for service or a stop light to change. We want instant solutions to every complex problem and every fractured relationship. In short – we want it all now! Maybe its time to reflect on an old, old poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that is as true today as it was when he wrote it over 100 years ago:
“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Toiled ever upward through the night.”
So it is with our faith my friends. We must become well rooted in order to withstand the attacks of the world. For if we are not well rooted in the word of God, our adversary, Satan, will have little trouble in tearing us away from our intended paths.