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Time, growth and oak trees

A devotion on God's good work

Years ago I visited our co-workers in Kenya tasked with an ambitious itinerary for the week. It was chock-full of meetings and visits to five different communities spread across the whole country.
One day in particular the agenda was aggressive: meetings, visits, travel. There was a lot to accomplish.  By midmorning we saw each meeting seemed to take longer than expected.  

The warmth and relationships-first culture was challenging the schedule, and I sensed we were falling behind.  With the anxiety rising, I asked my Kenyan friend what the time was. Without hesitation, he put his hand on my shoulder, looked up at the sky then shot me a grin, “Chris, it’s day time!”
Time is funny like that.  Its speed is fast, and yet it crawls. Time is viewed differently across cultures.  It can even be viewed differently from person to person depending on how they see the world.  

Have you considered God's perspective on time? God works from and for eternity. He's not limited or bound by time like we are. As followers of Jesus, we can experience intense spiritual growth in a very short time. At other times, we seem to be stuck where growth slows to a painfully sluggish pace or even a halt. At times I have felt frustrated by this, the lack of speed or consistency when it comes to my own growth and development.

Then I read a passage from "The Complete Green Letters" by Miles J Stanford.  In it he quotes theologian A.H. Strong, where he shares a story about a student inquiring to the president about taking a shorter path to finish the course.

In the story the president replied, "It depends on what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he wants to make a squash, he takes six months. Growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless."  
When the Psalmist talks about a spiritually mature person in Psalm 1, he says: 
"That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers."

What season do you find yourself in today? Are you frustrated or discouraged by the rate of your growth (or lack thereof)? Maybe, you are being solidified? Maybe God is strengthening you to become a mighty oak.

Lean into the season where God has you currently. Trust his timing. If you're reading this, God is not done with you.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- Philippians 1:6

Written by Chris Cato, director of missions for Buckner International.

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