He kept repeating that word as he was praying for me. There was no elaboration from the minister but I knew what it meant—-exponential growth. I had been waiting for something to change. I was trying to be patient and expectant but steadily growing more weary. This word filled my soul with hope and I was ready. “Yes, Lord! Bring it!”
About eight months later, I was still waiting, and without joy. What happened to the exponential growth? What about the bamboo? Maybe I received it wrong. I was confused and frankly, angry. One afternoon I was lamenting to a dear friend and she lovingly said,
“Well, you do know how bamboo grows, right?”
I said, “Ya, fast and unstoppable! So why hasn’t that happened?!”
Her reply was a moment I will never forget.
“Yes, but first it takes 3 years to grow and develop a complex root system under the ground. There is a lot of work that happens below ground before it pops up and becomes the bamboo that we know.”
I looked it up. She was right!
But, three years!?
I didn’t like what I heard but I was grateful for the revelation. It helped settle my spirit and I felt like I had something to hold on to.
And wouldn’t you know it.
On the three year anniversary the word was given there were suddenly signs of crazy growth! Meetings and conversations, plans, and new developments that felt completely out of the blue…or should I say, out of the ground.
Patience is hard. But what I love is that the Lord knows that. He understands that we need hope, and comfort along the way. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit. Patience is a fruit of the spirit, not because it’s a punishment, but a marker of the Lord’s presence and tender, loving hand. Cultivating takes time. There are many steps to the growing process, and often those steps are hidden. But when we trust the process and allow the roots to grow deep, what eventually pushes up through the surface is healthy, resilient, and beautiful. Now when i see bamboo, I look past the beauty and bounty and I think about the powerful and complex root system that lies underneath and am grateful for the good work of the Lord to cultivate patience.