Some of God’s greatest works take a long time to reach maturity. Take the century plant, for example. This unique plant thrives in rocky, mountainous, desert sites. It has dramatic, opened leaves that grow up to a foot wide. The plant can reach twelve feet in diameter.

The strange thing about the century plant is its long reproduction cycle. For twenty or thirty years (no, not literally one hundred years), the six-foot-tall plant stands the same height and puts out no flowers. It looks as if it has stopped growing. But one year, without warning, a new bud sprouts. The bud, which resembles a tree-trunk-size asparagus spear, shoots into the sky at an incredible rate of seven inches per day and reaches an eventual height of twenty to forty feet. Then it crowns itself with several clumps of yellowish blossoms that last up to three weeks.

Just like we might prematurely jump to conclusions about the century plant by judging it from the surface, we may do the same with other believers. They may have made some mistakes and revealed their immaturity. It might seem like they are not moving forward spiritually, but backward. Only God knows what is going on beneath the surface. He may be doing a work in that person’s life which is far greater than we can even imagine, so we are unwise to dismiss them as worthless. Besides, the person might surprise you with their growth.

Are there some believers you know who seem to be growing slowly? Don’t give up on them just yet. Ask God to help you see them through His eyes so that you can pray for them and encourage them in their spiritual walk. Perhaps you remember someone’s mistakes as a young person, and that makes you skeptical of their abilities as an adult. Maybe you see yourself as a slow-growing saint. God doesn’t see you for who you are now, but for who you will become. Better yet, He will help you get there.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder