On beautiful fall days like today, I love to take my kids on nature walks along the river trails in the heart of our city. The trails have massive trees that line the path on both sides with big roots that if we’re not watching can jut out unexpectedly from the ground and cause us to stumble. On most of our walks, the kids will notice rocks, bugs, plants, or even pick up an acorn or two along the way to show me. Thinking about my own journey of seeking God’s calling for my life makes me appreciate the story behind my newly, gifted acorn even more.
Whether it was intended to be planted or not, the acorn’s previous owner, the mighty oak tree, also began its story as a small acorn having fallen to the ground and then buried. Somehow, I can relate to being buried. When we ask God for guidance or direction for our lives, we’re often too impatient and expect our revelation immediately. However, in God’s infinite wisdom, he’s surrounded us with example after example of his process. When God is growing something new, whether it’s a new baby, a new plant, or a new calling, it takes time. How much time depends on a variety of factors, but rarely is it instantaneous. Almost every new creation begins being buried, unseen from anyone else, for a period. The first thing our new object produces is its most important life-sustaining system: for a plant, a root; for a baby, the brain, spinal cord, and neurological system; for a new calling, our relationship with God. Here’s the tricky part. For us humans seeking God’s calling on our lives, if we’re not intentionally making the time to develop this life-sustaining connection to Christ, we’ll never move past our ‘buried acorn’ stage.
Assuming we can check the box of having a solid relationship and have grown our roots into Christ, we may be wondering what’s next-where’s my big breakthrough or open door? Here’s where nature’s process can help us understand God’s timing in our life.
For me, it wasn’t long in my growth process before I expected God to notice and for my life to begin producing the fruit I believed was capable. This is where my new friend, the acorn, came in handy. While yes, it’s only a matter of weeks before a root is developed and then a relatively short time later that my brown, little buddy began publicly showing the first tangible signs of life above ground; but (we knew one was coming), it’s DECADES before any actual fruit is produced.
It takes time, lots and lots of time for the oak tree to grow strong enough to support the creation of fruit. Years of unnoticed, growth before the roots are deep enough to provide the necessary nutrition to the entire tree. In fact, depending on the variety, it may take 20-30 years of continual growth before the first acorn is created. If God allows a tree to grow a few decades before it’s prepared to produce something as insignificant as an acorn, why do we think God will rush something so important as our development or our calling?
It is the development of my character that God most values. While a nice paycheck or an award-winning novel might be helpful, ultimately the only thing I get to take with me to heaven is the character I developed while on Earth and the people I helped to lead to Christ. Did I have a heart that sought God on both the good days and the bad? Did I trust and believe that he loved me and openly shared his love with others? Did I trust in his goodness in all situations? Did I value him above all else as revealed in how I spent my time and my resources? Did I grow to become more Christlike in my time here? Was I a light to others in the darkness? Did I actively seek others to mentor and disciple to help build them up and nourish their growth?
Unfortunately, none of these are produced quickly. It takes time and the willingness to be tested again and again to demonstrate our depth of character. But, as we continue to remain faithfully planted, growing our roots with each passing day deeper into Christ, eventually, God PROMISES, we WILL bear fruit. The greatest gift of our fruit bearing years is our fully developed ability to not only sustain our abundant gifts, but our ability to begin planting the next generation of acorns that can then in turn be planted and grown under our protective branches. Our fruit begins to not only feed future needs, but provides necessary nourishment for life around us as well. However, none of this is possible if we rush the growth process or choose to uproot our self too soon.
Consider this my word of encouragement in your wait. While we continue to pray that God opens doors for us to bear fruit in our lives and the lives of others, let’s take a minute and thank God that he cares TOO much about us to allow us to produce our own acorns before we’re ready.