Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 ESV

I’ve been asking God for a long time to change my heart when it comes to how I view time.  I know full well that it’s an illusion to think of time as ‘mine’. As a Christian, I don’t actually own anything, whether material possessions, talents, the body I inhabit or the hours in a day.  I’ve known that in my head, but I don’t seem to have power over that kind of internal change.  And since God’s word teaches us that he, God, is the one who gives us desires, it seems logical to me to ask him to change my heart.

So, when I noticed a less selfish heart response one day this week, I felt encouraged.  “He’s really doing it; he’s changing my heart!”  But it wasn’t 6 hours later that my cheery demeanor evaporated.  This was the proverbial 2 steps forward – one step back, for the Lord humbled me, showing me how much holy spirit heart surgery remains to be done.

Last week I read the book by James Clear, Atomic Habits.  In an early chapter Clear described how the Chinese bamboo tree grows.  Apparently, if you plant a seed for this species of bamboo, you won’t see any green shoots for about 5 years.  No, your seed hasn’t died.  Growth has been happening steadily, but underground with the solitary focus of developing a foundational root system. It takes years to create a sufficient and extensive root network strong enough to support bamboo stalks that can tower 90 feet and higher.

Here’s what’s fascinating about this kind of bamboo tree.  One day, with no warning and after about five years of invisible but real growth below the surface, a shoot will abruptly appear and shoot up 3 feet in 24 hours!  By the end of a month, your Chinese Bamboo Tree towers 90 feet. Whoa!

Do you see why this plant example might illustrate how our faith grows? Jesus, himself, used the example of a large mustard. I don’t know how long it takes the tiny mustard seed to emerge, but a big tree will need strong and deep roots. 

You might know someone who has heard and received the gospel truth of what Jesus Christ did to save and redeem sinners. But you might not see any ‘fruit’, that evidence of a changed life.  Take heart, if your friend has been sitting under good teaching and/or reading his Bible, the roots have been growing. We humans simply tend to be impatient.  In many endeavors, when we don’t see the results we expect, we easily give up, resignedly concluding, “That didn’t work….I’m no good at…..he’ll never change!”  When all along, we didn’t exercise patience.

Back to my ‘growth’ in heart. The good news this week was when my volunteer shift at the local crisis pregnancy center went almost an hour longer than normal, I found myself unexpectedly NOT impatient.  I had no thought of, “It’s past lunch time, I won’t have enough time to do….” I simply felt pleasure in spending time with this late-to-walk-in gal who needed pregnancy and spiritual counseling.

I high-fived God on the way home.  The afternoon passed quickly with barely 30 minutes for lunch.  We had no food in the house since we had arrived home the previous night from a week out of town.  By the time I put away the groceries, it was practically time to start dinner prep. I started to feel sorry for myself.

When Mike passed through the kitchen, I remarked, “I’m almost finished with all the grocery sorting and storing and I’ve only had a short break all day!”  He remarked, “Are you feeling resentful?”  I wanted to deny that, but explained, “Well….maybe a little, because I’ve been so busy.”  When he explained he picked up on my tone, my pride was hurt.  I HAD been telling God it was not right to feel sorry for myself. After all, I had enjoyed ample time on our trip….but that was my head talking and not my heart.

After asking my husband to pray for my heart, I settled into the realization that God both encouraged me and gently scolded me, all in one day.  He’s still at work on my root system! More growth needed.