Lessons from the Milkweed

Lessons from the Milkweed

Nature literally cries out with great moral truths—if we stop long enough to listen.

For example, who'd ever think that the milkweed teaches us the lesson of patience and perseverance? Actually, it's one of our most interesting American plants.

In the first place, it grows almost everywhere—North, South, East, and West. Roadsides, pastures, meadows, and field. If you cut it down, it comes right back. Cut it down twice, three times, or four—the milkweed puts out new shoots and miraculously makes up for lost time, barely getting its silky, wind-borne seeds out by frost.

During the war milkweed down was used in life preservers. Its whitish fluid, which oozes out when cut, contains natural rubber.

This ordinary plant teaches us patience by the way it works to reproduce itself. Follow the seeds as they float along so daintily, driven by autumn winds.

A few land in the roadside ditch and are soon covered with mud. They will never sprout. Some are eaten by birds and field mice. Perhaps a few dozen land on leaves, too far removed from the ground to send down roots. Some are caught in the pod and never "get off ground," so to speak. Others go high and wide to unknown destinations.

In the spring just a few out of the hundreds of lovely seeds actually get started. Grazing cows bite most of these or pull them up by the roots. Yet, to reproduce one, two, or three milkweed plants, the parent weed of last year expended hundreds, or even thousands, of seeds. So lavish is nature in its expenditure. So patient is God.

If somebody should ask us, "Will you try 789 times in order to succeed just once?" the answer could easily be no. Nature finds it necessary to expend gigantic efforts for success.

The oyster lays millions of eggs annually to reproduce itself. Every fall the maple tree sheds untold thousands of seeds with propeller-like attachments. They twist and spiral to the ground. All this to produce one or two maple saplings.

Some of us think, like the disciple Peter, that forgiving people seven times is enough. Jesus told Peter, "Not seven, but seventy times seven!" He really meant forgive an endless number of times, as our heavenly Father forgives us without ceasing.

Were God as impatient with us as we are with one another, he surely would have destroyed the human race long ago. What great forbearance he possesses! What patience it must take to be the Father of the whole human race!

The milkweed sends out its numberless seeds on wings of wind to keep the milkweed race going. Every species of plant or animal must give of itself, just to stay alive.

To develop into mature, Godlike men and women, boys and girls, we need to become more patient. Look around and you'll see his great patience displayed everywhere.

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