October Reflection – Be patient with others
I am told that the Chinese bamboo tree is one of the most remarkable plants on earth. Once the gardener plants the seed, he will see nothing but a single shoot coming out of the bulb – for five full years! During all that time even though the gardener is caring for the plant, the exterior shoot will grow less than an inch. At the end of five years, however, the Chinese bamboo will perform an incredible feat. It will grow an amazing ninety feet tall in only ninety days! Now ask yourself this: When did the tree actually grow? The answer lies in the unseen part of the tree, the underground root system. During the first five years of its life, that tiny shoot must have daily food and water so that slowly but surely the fibrous root structure can spread deep and wide in the earth, preparing to support the incredible heights the tree will eventually reach. It takes patience!
We, as GB leaders, are privileged to be given the responsibility of working with many children and young women. Let’s be honest for a moment, some of these young people try our patience to its limit! They don’t listen; they have their own agendas; they go their own way; they seem to reject the values and teaching we try to inspire them with. They may lack self-control and be self-centred. They may be more easily influenced by their peers or the media than by the things of God. It can be so easy to give up on them. But we have a responsibility to nurture them, to keep on feeding them, to work with them, to care for them, to accept them, to pick them up when they fall. As we do all this we are helping them to build firm foundations for life. We are enabling them to learn values that will keep them steadfast in times of difficulty. We are ensuring that when the time is right they, like the bamboo tree, will burst forth and flourish. All we have to do is be patient in our dealings with them.
Paul, in one of his pastoral epistles, gave the young church leader Timothy this advice:
‘Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.’ 2 Timothy 4:2
The advice is good for us too. No matter how hard it may seem, or how long it might take invest in those God places in your care. Remember this: when God wants to grow mushrooms, he can do it overnight, but when he wants to grow a mighty oak, it takes a few years. Our vision is to transform lives – it takes time, it takes patience, but that’s OK because just think how much patience God has to have with us!