I’ve been thinking a lot about patience lately. I believe that God put an analogy in my head during one of my 3:00 am “processing sessions.” I’ve shared it with a lot of people already, but for those of you who haven’t heard it yet, I hope you’re blessed by it as I have been.
I have a spider plant in my office. It’s the only plant in my office and I’ve had it for years. Overall, it’s doing pretty well. It gets lots of sunshine and I water it regularly. However, it has several leaves with brown tips and it hasn’t produced spider plant “babies” in a long time.
To encourage growth and health in my plant, imagine going to it and talking to it like so many of us talk to ourselves in our head. “Now come on, you just sit there all day, let’s get busy and produce some babies.” “What’s with these brown tips? Get healthy!” “Oh, and hurry it up will you!” How’s that going to end for my plant? Probably not well.
And here’s why I think God gave me the analogy of my spider plant. That plant was given to me by a former member of our church named Beryl Kern. She had cerebral palsy and it greatly affected her speech and mobility. I loved my conversations with Beryl and would often talk to her about her father who was in World War II and was also a fantastic artist. I have one of his paintings still hanging in my woodshop. However, because of her speech, people often thought that Beryl was a person with a mental disability.
(This is Beryl’s excitement when we showed her the new floor in her bedroom)
Beryl never married and never had any children. For Beryl, her pets and plants were loved by her as if they were her children. I always told Beryl that she taught me so much about patience. Yet, she never thought she was patient herself. She was patient! Let me give you a couple of examples. I remember going to her house once and she had a cat in her lap that was passing away. She sat there petting that cat until finally the cat finally passed away. On another occasion, I had to kind of give Beryl a hard time because of her self reliance. You see, her hot water heater quit working and rather than let me know so we could replace it, she heated up water on her kitchen stove and then took the water to the bathroom so she could bath. Understand this as well, Beryl was not stable enough to carry the warm water to the bathroom so she would heat up the water, put in on the floor, sit down behind the pan, push the pan to the bathroom with her feet, and then bathe. I just ask you, how patient would you be with that situation? As I said, Beryl taught me so much about patience.
Beryl gave me that spider plant. I’m sure she grew it from a spider plant baby by placing a pot underneath the tiny baby. She placed it in good soil, watered it, gave it attention, and I’m sure she talked to it with a tender and loving voice.
When Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, he said these words, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground.” (53:2 ESV) Actually, God uses the analogy of plants all throughout the Bible. If you want to check some of those out, here are a few verses: Psalm 128:3, 144:12; Isaiah 5:7; and Matthew 15:13.
Beryl exhibited the fruit of the Spirit of patience, and although not perfected in patience, she mirrored God’s ultimate patience. In the Old Testament, over and over again it says that God is “Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” (e.g. Psalm 103:8) Even till the very end, God is patient. Peter tells us:
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:8-13)
I was given the analogy of my spider plant but really, God is not growing a spider plant in us, He’s growing an oak tree!