Divine this feeling of pushing up from the ground
Stretching myself to sunlight gradually
Losing my cover but not my security
With none of my rootedness lost
I reach and am reached by ability’s extremities
I fold in the wind but unmoved I malleable, ductile
Stand, grow, live
Exposed to the elements
Shaded, tall and strong alongside shadows faded
I would fade to nothing if heat could not kiss me
Harshly and then soft rain to caress me, cool me
Sweet discipline, tough to endure, yet tough I endure
Though the comforts of underground hiding places beckon
My beauty is one with the risen sun
My colours blaze with the lengthening days
My life has begun
And I grow.
The stark reality of life is that if we want to mature in any area – with an aim to becoming strong and effective – there are processes we must patiently endure for the sake of building resilience. In my poem I discuss seasons of growth, likening myself to a tree – well rooted but well aware of the necessity and variety of weathering it takes in order to ‘take root downward and bear fruit upward’. I’d like to take a few moments to break my poem apart and from the fragments, share some thoughts with you about growth by God’s design that you can apply both to yourself and the young shoots you are raising.
Let’s make no mistake; growth is a God thing. There is something divine about finally extending past your reach – breaking past the restraints on your ability, thinking and capacity. But it is worth noting that at every stage of growth there is an element of stress – a pressure with equal potential to restrict as to replenish. In this our mettle is tested. The seed at the beginning of its life – the planting – must say to the Gardener, “Pile it on.”
In absolute surrender it welcomes death, allowing itself to be buried alive with expectation that from that ‘grave’ of grit, hope will spring eternal. What dirt is life throwing on you? Are you reaching up through the loam into your next season or are you wallowing in the dust? Are you allowing it to become an irritant; is it clouding your vision and stifling your efforts? Or, are you growing where you are planted? (See 1 Corinthians 15:36-38)
“Growth is an ongoing process of stretching, leaning and learning – sprouting roots, digging deep and bearing evidence of the process.”
Growth takes time and ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. A young plant goes through a period of preparation, where in its formative years there is vegetative growth by means of photosynthesis. It’s where we branch out, spread out, grow in leaps and bounds, shed inhibitions, growing fragrant with blossoms of expectancy, vision and passion. Sunlight beckons us up past the other plants under whose shade we used to rest, and sometimes hide.
Our vantage point has changed. The scenery looks different but because we are rooted and grounded in the love of the Lord that same light adds perspective instead of inciting fear and sustains our growth from the inside out. We learn to feed ourselves instead of waiting on nutrients to fall off someone else’s branches.
“When we avail ourselves to the process, we find gratitude for the journey of change as time progresses.”
We begin to love the process. Our attitudes are changing toward the challenges and challenging people we encounter. We don’t take correction as personally. We choose not to believe that one mistake makes us a bad parent. We see that loss can be navigated with grace. We learn to guard our tongues as well as our hearts.
And suddenly we realise that we are taller, stronger and still shaded. There are other trees beside us in this ecosystem. We can see where they set their branches to maintain their robustness. We can rest in the comfort of their mentorship and take advantage of their experience without losing vision. We begin to bear fruit that’s unique and of benefit to those around.
“Sometimes bringing forth fruit requires sacrifice, but God is in the midst of what may seem to be an unpleasant set of circumstances.”
Bearing fruit requires inner fortitude – It costs something to produce, and maintain. Sometimes the cost comes in the form of pruning. The Arborist comes along in a dormant period and, assessing the quality of the tree’s branches, will cut away every limb that is not bearing well; or he will simulate a series of pressure tests to cause the tree to push back against the duress so as to flourish.
As soon as God realises that we are stagnating or that some part of us is potentially dangerous, however deeply it is hidden amongst our branches, He will take some time, with extra care and the right tools, to setting us right. It takes trust in the heart and experience of the Arborist to allow him that free reign with our lives.
“Trust the steady hand of the Arborist. He knows what He is doing and is heavily invested in your success.”
It takes trust in the heart and experience of the Arborist to allow Him that free reign with our lives. The pain of separation from people, places, mindsets, goals, dreams we once thought would journey with us into adulthood can be the greatest of the stresses a maturing plant can endure. Naked and alone we wish to retreat to that place of solace beneath the soil, but there’s a beautiful irony at work that can’t be ignored.
Sure, we’re more exposed here – we begin to experience the full weight of the elements but we learn to bend without breaking. Daylight and rain are a sweet discipline that fortifies us. The tougher it is to endure, the tougher we become as we endure. And we do. A beautiful force to be reckoned with. A statuesque monument to the fact that God knows what He is doing.
No matter where you are in the process of growth by God’s design, remember that He is actively involved and invested in
ordering your life to see you firmly established and bringing forth good fruit. Rest in Him and embrace your season. Trust Him to do what He does best, don’t try to take the reins: trust He’s got it under control.
He has made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Let us not make our prayer ‘Hurry up, God,’ but instead ‘Help me grow up, God, until Your perfect will for my life is complete.”
What did your period of growth look like? Were you are able to identify with Tao’s perspective on the growing stages life? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.