Why do things have to take so long?
Take seeds, for example. They take so long to grow. Suppose I am craving a tomato, and I plant a tomato seed. By the time that seeds gives me a tomato, I may not even want a tomato any longer.
Personal fitness is another example. I’ve been exercising, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep ever since lunchtime yesterday, and I’m still not seeing results.
Learning the virtues of patience and endurance can be difficult. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatian church, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There are several lessons about patience and endurance that I am learning from planting and reaping. The first is that I can benefit from someone else’s patient planting. The tomato that I am craving today won’t come from my seed, but it can come from someone else’s seed that they planted a few months ago.
This lesson leads to the second. Planting is an act of long term patience, endurance and faithfulness, rather than an act to address hunger. If I am not careful my appetites can cause many troubles. Selfish appetites for food, money, belongings, and relationships are the enemies of patience and endurance.
Finally, I am learning the lesson to plant now.
There are two ideal times to plant a tree. One is 100 years ago, and the other is today. There is a strong temptation for us to think about, “One of these days…,” or to say, “When this happens, then I’ll …”
If I get started today, in a few months I could have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. There will be tomatoes to eat, tomatoes to share, tomatoes to preserve, and tomatoes to use for seeds to grow even more tomatoes.
That’s even better than having a tomato to satisfy today’s craving.
Joel Gay is Pastor of Wilmington Church of the Nazarene.