George Bowers Sr.: Patience pays off
The rains continue here in the Shenandoah Valley and our gardens overflow with abundance. It may be a little difficult getting in and out of the mud, but the produce certainly is a blessing to all of our summertime tables.
One of the most prolific of all vegetable crops is the yellow squash. If they can persevere through the beetles and the aphids and acquire enough moisture, they reward the gardener with many and frequent fruits for her table. In fact, the caretaker must check these plants daily during the height of the growing season to prevent the squash from growing too large and seedy. We can’t give away in July what we had to buy at premium prices just a few months earlier.
The squash plants, however, are relatively fragile and flimsy. Strong winds or clumsy dogs can easily damage the leaves or break the succulent stems. Care must be taken not to harm these plants when harvesting their bounty or the vines will meet a premature demise and the produce will cease. In addition, the vines and fruit both soon rot away after the growing season and are quickly forgotten.
In the forest, however, grow plants of a very different nature. Although they provide little human nutrition, they contribute much to our lives by the way of flooring, cabinets, shade, firewood, homes, furniture, and more. These stately forest trees use the same sunlight and moisture that the squash rely upon, but develop very different characteristics.
While few would argue the taste advantage that the squash holds over the acorn, its value and long term contribution to our lives is very slight compared to the mighty oak. Other than DNA, one of the primary factors in the outcome of these two plants is the passage of time.
The story is told of a student who asked his dean if he couldn’t take a shorter course of studies than the one prescribed. The dean assured him that abbreviated options were available, but then asked him what he wished to be. He reminded the young man that when God chooses to make an oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he makes a squash, he takes only two months.
How many times we get impatient and anxious and look for quick and easy routes. We seek to avoid the hard disciplines that sometimes face us in life. We want what we want when we want it. And to our harm, many times we are able to find and take those shorter routes. The outcomes, however, are often more like temporary squash than enduring oaks.
During these hot and humid summer months, what work is God doing in you? What is he trying to develop through the showers and sunshine of your life? When we are tempted to opt for the quick fix or the easy way out, let us compare the possible outcomes and persevere through the difficulties. As the Apostle Paul encouraged us years ago, “Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”
Striving to be an oak, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at email@example.com.