Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Romans 15:4 – 6 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Some days it’s hard to get going. It’s easy to be convinced at the beginning of the day that the events of the day will produce a less than desirable end to the day. Such emotional speculation produces the struggle to even get started. “Why try?” becomes the predominant question that influences our decision-making process. We begin to wonder if anyone else has ever had to go through what we are experiencing. And if they did, how did they survive and keep going? We start to believe that our situation is uniquely difficult and uniformly misunderstood by others. There is no one to whom we can relate or on whom we can rely. We are alone to face the trouble, and no one seems to care. We might as well quit.
Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? But it is far too often true of our attitudes when times get tough. Several days ago, I received an email from one of our church members and it contained a story I want to share with you.
One day I decided to quit. I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality. I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.
“God”, I said. “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”
His answer surprised me. “Look around”, He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”
“Yes”, I replied.
“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.
In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.”
He said, “In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit.”
He said, “Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern, it was seemingly small and insignificant, but just six months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”
He said to me, “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don’t compare yourself to others. The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. Your time will come.”
God said to me, “You will rise high.”
“How high should I rise?” I asked.
“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.
“As high as it can?” I questioned.
“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”
Somewhere in God’s Word there is an example of someone who struggled as you are. The Bible is full of stories of God’s faithfulness to bring His glory out of human tragedy. Search them out. Study them. Let your knowledge of God’s character – as seen in His activity in other people’s lives – encourage you to trust God to raise you up above your circumstances. Others have done it – so can you. God himself will encourage you and give you endurance to press on.
God has a glorious result planned, and if you stop now you’ll miss it. It may seem like your life is covered in dirt and you can’t see through it, but let me tell you what I see from out here on this side of the dirt. I see God warming the dirt with the Son. I see God watering the dirt with the Spirit. And wait, I think I see a sprout poking through the dirt. It looks a lot like the top of your head, and any moment now your eyes are going to see God’s plan.
Rise up, and rise as high as you can for the glory of God. You’ve been given a strong root system grounded in the Word of God. Trust it and rise as high as you can.