Sooner or later, every parent does the bean experiment with his kid. You know, the one where you fill a paper cup with soil and plant some lima bean seeds?
And then you water, and wait, and water, and wait. Checking it every day. Sometimes little children grow impatient and parents have to keep them from digging in the dirt to see whether the beans are actually sprouting.
The funny thing is, we parents are just like little kids. We spend years planting seeds of good God stuff into our children’s hearts. We water and water with lots of love and encouragement and discipline. Then we get impatient when we don’t immediately see little sprouts of noble character peeking through their life-soil.
So what do we do? We start to dig up the soil. Asking lots of questions, feeling around in the dirt, trying to pull explanations and thoughts and motives out of them, all the time wondering, when are the sprouts gonna come up? I’ve been pouring into their lives for a long time, why are they not showing spectacular results?
I do this a lot because I like to ask questions. Sometimes it drives my kids crazy. And I’ve learned that stirring up the soil does not help the sprout grow. Sometimes when we ask and probe, we go a little overboard because we want to see inside our kid’s hearts. We want to know what they are thinking about every little thing.
If we wait patiently, the sprouts will show in their own good time. But hang on, it may take several years. In fact, you may wonder when they are teenagers if you will ever see any sprouts.
No matter what, never stop watering. Because someday, when you are walking by the paper cup, it will be there. A timid green sprout will pop through the soil of your child’s heart: a wise choice, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a grateful spirit.
And you will smile. It’s amazing how one little bean sprout can make your day.