The items placed right next to the checkout counter are put there for people like me. I’m a sucker, and the gravitational pull of those last-minute items gets me more often than not.
A few weeks ago I lost the battle with the needless checkout-counter goods and purchased a bulb. Not a light, but a bulb that grows and produces flowers. It came in a pretty, clear, glass vase through which I could see the roots (and also see how much water it has—I’m normally the Grim Reaper of plants). It cost $2.50, and I thought Josiah would love watching the flower grow.
I brought it home and with much excitement explained to Josiah what it was and that we would be able to watch how it grows. His eyes filled with wonder as he looked at the roots and touched the shoots that were already visible.
I placed it on the kitchen windowsill and determined to asses its growth daily. It grew at lightening speed. Literally every single day, sometimes even after every few hours, I could see change in the plant. At first it was probably only noticeable to Josiah and me, but day after day it grew, and day after day we celebrated the change we saw.
And through this bulb, God showed me something. In the early days of the plant I realized I noticed seemingly unnoticeable changes because I was looking for it.
How often do we think God is not working because we cannot see change?
Perhaps we’re praying for freedom from a sin pattern and we don’t see any growth, so we feel like we’ll be forever enslaved. Or maybe we’re praying for our spouse to see that we are right (not that I ever do that…ha!), and they don’t come and apologize, so we think the Holy Spirit isn’t moving. Or maybe we’re praying for a friend’s healing and they seem to face setbacks, so we conclude God doesn’t care. But what if we looked earnestly for the ways God is moving?
We tend to only celebrate growth when it’s massive and noticeable. And we tend to expect change to happen instantaneously. But the work of God can sometimes be slow. Sometimes we have to really search to discover the ways He is moving in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Often in Scripture we see God taking his time as He prepares a servant for the work of ministry. Moses lived in Midian 40 years before singing, “Let my people go!” (Acts 7:30). David was anointed king over Israel, but waited years before assuming the throne (1 Sam 16:13; 2 Sam 5:3). Saul, now Paul, experienced a dramatic conversion, but did not tell others about his new life mission for 3 years (Gal 1:15-18). On the outside, it may appear like not much was happening, but God was changing them, little-by-little, readying them to do the good works He prepared ahead of time for them (Eph. 2:10). But because we can see the full story through Scripture, we can notice how each man was being equipped for the job God had for him. The change was subtle, but change was there.
The same happens with us. Christ pursues us, and if we take responsibility in our sanctification, we become more like Him. Most days, it’s not dramatic, but if we’re looking for it, we can see how we are slowly being molded. Maybe the change is the little extra ounce of patience you have for your toddler on a particular day. Or perhaps the growth is having self-control to not eat the extra bite of food you’re not actually hungry for. These are things that we don’t normally celebrate, but they are worth rejoicing over.
Today, our bulb has 9 blossoms at the top, with buds for 4 more that will burst open in a day or two. We are excited to see the beauty and purity of the white petals, but I don’t want to just celebrate the final product. I want to give thanks for the daily growth, the inch-by-inch change that God allowed.
Will you do the same in your own life and in the lives of those around you?
“And he [Jesus] said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’”Mark 4:30-32