If you plant a seed, you know it will take a week or two before you see any signs of life. And then you watch this feeble little stem begin to come up out of the ground. You can look at the plant everyday and notice a little more growth. The stem thickens and grows taller. Leaves sprout and buds form. Soon you have fruit or flowers and you hardly remember the day when you planted the seed.
Children are like that. In Psalm 127:3, we find that our reward is in “the fruit of the womb” and, in Psalm 128:3, children are compared to “olive plants round about thy table.” Children are begun as seed in the womb; we don’t see them for a time. They are “underground” in our bellies, yet growing all the time.
Then, they burst forth – ouch! And, at first, we can watch each tiny developing stage. It happens so quickly and we are so focused on our little one that we can see growth happening. They get a little longer, they add a little weight, they begin to reach and stretch and hold onto things. We watch them begin to focus on the world around them and soon they are sitting, crawling, walking, running.
Those first few years, everything happens so quickly, we can see it. But, then that rapid growth fades and changes become more gradual, more subtle. Suddenly, I am looking at a young woman and a young man – where did the time go? And look how much they’ve changed.
They’ve gained a hundred pounds and grown three or four feet taller. They can outrun me. Sometimes they outthink me. They’ve changed in manner, attitude, and behavior. But, it all happened so slowly that I missed a lot of it. It is good to note the progress and the change. And it is good to note whether the needs of the plant/child have changed. Do they need fertilizer/love? Do they need more water/love or nutrients/love? Do they need pruning/discipline? Do they need more or less sunshine/social activity? Am I talking to my plant or listening to my child enough?
As I consider some of the progress we’ve made lately, I see:
1. My son is able to clean his room well and on his own. This is a miraculous growth spurt over last year.
2. My daughter has begun to speak unprompted in social settings – not often, but enough to show me that she is beginning to come out of her shell.
3. Traces of responsibility are showing up: picking up something off the floor unasked (even when they were not the one who dropped it!); stopping the “stall” during school work and just getting the work done without (much) complaint; working out differences without parental intervention; maintaining regular “Rat Club” dues, paying for pet food and accessories, and taking care of all pet rat needs without a bit of complaint.
I can think of some more progress I’d like to see. Some days I am anxious for the fruit and the flowers. But, they are not ripe yet. We still have years of cultivation ahead. I thank God for allowing me to tend this little patch of His garden.