God, the Fern and the Bamboo

Bamboo forestThe Men’s Group at our church meets weekly and encourages its members to spend devotional time with God everyday.  Currently, they use Portals of Prayer and one of the leaders gets up early and posts additional encouragement and thoughts on the day’s readings. Recently, Ed commented and Tom responded with the parable below. Unsure of the original source. Searching for “God, Fern, Bamboo” in Google finds many, many pages. The oldest entry was from 2007, but it’s older. Enough backstory; here’s the parable:

One day I decided to quit. I wanted to quit my job, quit my relationships, quit my spirituality and even my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God,” I said, “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?” His answer surprised me.

“Look around”, He said, “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light, and I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

“In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. Again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. I did not quit on the bamboo.

“In the third year there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. I did not give up. In the fourth year there was still nothing from the bamboo seed but decided not to quit on the bamboo. I still gave it light and water.

“Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. Just six months later the bamboo rose to over a hundred feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive.

“I would not give any of my creations a challenge they could not handle. Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo and I will never quit on you!

“Don’t compare yourself to others. The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern, yet they both make the forest beautiful. Your time will come. You will rise high.”

“How high should I rise?” I asked.

“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can?” I questioned.

“Yes,” He said. “Give me glory by rising as high as you can. Remember: I will never leave you , nor forsake you. I will never give up on you. I will never, ever quit on you.”

If you are struggling and have many obstacles in your path on your journey in life just remember what God said about the bamboo. We’re just growing roots!

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