I grow bonsai trees.
In South Florida, some kinds of trees grow year round. Some never lose their leaves or foliage. But, some, need an annual period of dormancy – typically, the winter (though, we don’t get much of a winter in South Florida!).
During the holidays, I visited a bonsai store in Orlando, where I have purchased a number of trees. This time, there was a gorgeous, mature, specimen Bald Cypress bonsai. It was already dormant, but had a beautiful, well defined shape. I loved it. I knew I couldn’t afford it, but I had to ask anyway. I think the price was about $1000, which was about 4 times more than what I had guessed, and at least $950 more than I could afford.
Knowing I wasn’t going to spend $1000, the store owner (who is also a friend), pointed out a smaller Bald Cypress, in a plastic pot, that could be trained to become a bonsai – eventually – for a lot less money. It, too, was already dormant – basically just a stick in a pot. But, it had potential – sort of. And, it was affordable. And, I’m a compulsive bonsai-ist. So, I bought it.
I brought it home, put it in a nice bonsai pot, wired the bare branches, and waited, and waited, and waited. For four months I’ve waited for some sign of growth. Honestly, I’ve wondered if I’d killed it.
Earlier this week, I saw the first sprouts of new, green growth. There’s not much to see yet. But, there’s enough to show me that the tree is alive and well, and that the potential I saw when I bought it might still become reality – eventually. That potential will take many years, through many seasons of growth and dormancy. It may never be as impressive as the $1000 tree – I can almost guarantee that. I may even kill it, as I have too many other trees with “potential.”
But, for now, I see signs of growth. Growth means life. New growth means future possibility.
As a Christ-follower, I also believe we are called to continuously grow and develop. There have been seasons in my life where growth has been obvious. But, more often than not, I have trouble seeing it. At least in my own eyes, I’m often like that dormant bonsai tree.
Several years ago, during Lent, I prayed for God to show me the areas of my life that still need growth, and to help me do it. I felt a very strong impression that God was telling me to trust him with the growth, and that my job was just to stay close to him. Like Paul said, “Only God makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Just like that dormant tree, I can’t force the growth. My job is to water it (the tree – not me), fertilize it, keep it in the sunshine, and be patient. Growth will come if the tree is properly cared for. Similarly, my job – spiritually – is to keep pursuing my relationship with Jesus, my knowledge of his Word, and to keep weeding out the stuff that gets in the way.
Nevertheless, I watch and wait for signs of new growth to come in my life – for the potential that is yet to be developed. I may only be a stick in a plastic pot, now – metaphorically speaking, of course – but someday I could be that $1000 specimen!
Seen any signs of growth in your life lately?