Today, I want to share with you the story behind the Chinese Bamboo Plant. It’s a story of faith and hope; and a sure testimony to the fact that dreams, in fact, do come true. Miracles still do happen. Visions still take flight.
It goes something like this.
A struggling, impoverished Chinese farmer has a dream of planting and harvesting a gigantic Chinese Bamboo plant. He digs up spots in the ground and faithfully plants the seeds. He waters these spots diligently, day after day, in the hope that he will one day reap a harvest so huge that it will suffice to even feed his generations. That is his dream, his vision and perhaps, his prayer.
The first year goes by. There are no signs of growth. In his wisdom, he plants even other crops nearby in order that he may be in a position to at least provide for his family, as he awaits the manifestation of his promise. Does this not sound a bit like us working on our day job as we simultaneously and secretly harbour hopes for a better future, one that has seen and savoured the taste of long awaited dreams turning into reality?
I think it may resonate.
The second year goes by. Still, there are no outward signs of growth.
The third year goes by. No growth, no sprouts, nothing.
At this point, many of us would be tempted to simply call it quits, to give up. But not our Chinese bamboo farmer. He continues to believe that his breakthrough is around the corner, even if he can’t feel it nor see it. This tells me that Faith is really a decision. We can either choose to succumb to the temporary reality of what we see, or dare to believe that something better is possible.
As the fourth year comes around, there are still no signs of growth. Having endured the ridicule of critics, haters and nay sayers; our farmer tenaciously continues to water the seeds, fertilize and most importantly, keep the faith.
Now is the part we all get happy. As the fifth year rolls around, the farmer stands tall to witness the first signs of growth from the seeds he had planted years back and tended to through the passage of time. He sees the sprouts come forth, and jumping with joy, runs ecstatically to relate the good news to friends and family! All come out to see and are left stumped, to say the least. In the course of the next six short weeks, this plant shoots up to grow into a towering 90-feet tall bamboo plant.
The farmer now has seen his faith give birth to a legacy that will not only feed him and his family, but even his children, and children’s children. His faith now stands as a pillar for even others to lean on and gain inspiration from. The very people who made fun of him perhaps feel like taking their words back. But at this juncture, none of that matters. All that remains is the tangible evidence of what a simple farmer’s spirit dared to believe and what the potent power of faith is able to accomplish in one’s life.
Begs the question.
What really was happening in the first four years of hard toil and cumbersome labor?
It all boils down to what is perhaps the substratum of our faith – Roots.
It was in those years when the ground seemed barren and the growth appeared dormant that the plant was actually developing a strong root structure, a root structure that had to be deep enough to support the growth that was destined to be bestowed upon it, in the years to come. To me, this speaks succinctly to the truth that before releasing the fullness of His Promises in our lives, God always does a deep work IN us before He does a great work THROUGH us. He is more interested in developing our character then merely unleashing that which, if given prematurely, can do more harm than good. It is in those times that we feel overlooked, forgotten or rejected; that He is purging the motives of our hearts and building within us the fortitude needed to go along with the “good success” He promised. When we want to microwave our dreams, He is loving enough to let them cook in the crock pot.
So friends, let us yield to His process as we patiently await His Promise. Let us plant, water, believe and trust the One who is well able to give the increase.
Let me close with a cherished Bible verse,
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Together, let us rest in that, my friends.