One of our usual family activities when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, was growing different kinds of plants in our backyard. We would water them every day and shade them until they were able to withstand natural environmental forces.
We noticed that all the plants, except one, would grow into mature tall trees in just three years. A variety of Chinese bamboo only grew to almost three feet during the first three years. It became an inch taller each year until the sixth year. It was just in the seventh year that the bamboo flourished like the other trees. The two bamboo shoots we planted also multiplied into several stalks.
What we kept on looking through those years was the external growth of the bamboo. What we did not notice was the internal growth taking place. The roots grew large and strong underneath the ground before the bamboo grew into towering plants. This growth pattern provided a strong foundation for the bamboos.
A typhoon (known as hurricane in the Atlantic) hit our place one summer. It was strong that devastated the whole community. Many people lost their homes. Streets were flooded. Crops were destroyed. All trees in our backyard fell, except the bamboos. They stood still amidst the storm because of their strong foundation.
By the same token, many of us measure our growth only in terms of those things that we can readily measure up—the amount of savings we have in the bank, the estates we acquired over the years, the promotions, awards and merits we achieved in our jobs, and the like. At times, we may feel that after several years of hard work, we still remain the same. We are discouraged. We may be envious of others. We may feel paralyzed as we think our efforts are futile and will never be rewarded.
However, success in life cannot be measured only by material growth or accomplishments, but by our strength of character and faith that developed over the years.
Abundance is not only evident in positive results, but also on self-discovery and strength that came up as a result of uphill battles. Think about the joy that comes after a struggle, the new hope that emerges after a frustration, or the genuine friendship that grows after a crisis.
There are circumstances in our life that give us a strong foundation to be grounded in faith and character. At times, our plans may not be realized the way we wanted them to be. But we have to remember that the Lord always stores wonderful things for us. The Lord prepares us to withstand the challenges that may come along with more significant opportunities. The time we feel we are not growing may be the time of internal nurturing. Continue to be patient and persevere.
Let us acknowledge the growth that takes place within us as much as we recognize the growth that society measures us by. In the end, all the things we see come and go. The strength of character and faith is perpetual.