Enduring Strength

We’ve been doing some landscaping in our backyard. The yard has been what one might call a “blank canvas” since we moved in a few years ago. There were no trees or shrubs to be found, leaving the imagination to run wild with ideas on how to beautify the landscape.

I was looking for some trees to plant that would be attractive to look at and would provide some shade. An Ornamental Pear Tree is one of the most beautiful trees in North Texas right now. There are several varieties, and Bradford has probably been the most popular.

“The Bradford Pear was often described as a perfect tree that could tolerate our soil, provide white flowers in the spring, display magnificent fall color…It is an attractive, medium-sized tree that is well rounded and often touted as drought tolerant and disease free.” Read article here

However, because the tree grows so quickly, the limbs all grow from one area of the trunk.  They crowd each other and rub together and split easily, so the tree has a short life expectancy  compared to more slow-growing trees. And the incredible white blooms that cover the tree in springtime are said to smell like fish.

“Grumpy Gardener Steve Bender is here to tell you that this stinky, oversized tree is not worth the hassle, though. From its overabundance of shade to weak branching structure, Bradford pears are the worst trees out there.” Read article here.

All you have to do is go to your favorite gardening website and search “Bradford Pear tree” and you’ll see that almost no one recommends that you plant one in your yard.

But…it’s beautiful to look at!

And it grows fast…I won’t have to wait 20 years for shade!

And did I mention how pretty it is in spring and fall?

So why am I talking about this on a post? It relates to my personal spiritual journey. How?

I always wanted to be a Christian woman whose growth in the Lord was fast and easy to recognize, so I would mature quickly and be able to be of use to God.  And I wanted to be beautiful while doing it! Not literally, but you know what I mean. Graceful, kind, generous. But sometimes fast-growing equates to weak development (burnout) like it does in the Bradford Pear tree.

“On the Bradford pear tree, limbs grow upward from the main branch at an angle so narrow that hard winds break limbs from the tree. Rarely, will you see an intact mature Bradford pear tree.” Read article here.

Instead, I feel my spiritual growth has been uncomfortably slow, sometimes feeling I wasn’t growing at all. And it hasn’t usually been pretty.  It’s included times of deep anguish, times of deplorable sin, and times of feeling disciplined by God. But then I would come back to Him and ask Him to forgive me and train me in righteousness so I can do His will.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11 NIV

You know, one thing I’ve learned through this long, slow process of sanctification is that God isn’t waiting for us to be fully grown before He can use us. It’s through the slow, steady growing in Him that develops enduring strength in us. We learn the lessons He wants us to share with others.

…who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

We don’t need to grow fast – we just need to keep growing and getting stronger.

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. Psalms 92:12 NLT

We don’t need to be beautiful while we’re growing – we just need to be ready to bloom at the right time. Then we will exhibit outward expressions of the fruit of the Spirit that He is cultivating in us.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23

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