Sagah… and Pandas

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It’s an old joke.

A panda walks into a pub and orders a sandwich. When he’s finished he pulls out a gun and shoots the barman. The manager asks the panda ‘Why did you do that?’ The panda replies, ‘I’m a panda. Look it up,’ and walks away. The manager looks up ‘panda’ on his phone. It says: ‘Panda – Eats shoots and leaves’

I’ve been introduced to the old Hebrew word ‘Sagah’ by Peter Thomas. I met Peter when my daughter Jo was in Brazil. He’s now director of YWAM Fortaleza. He’s written a book ‘To climb a mountain’…

Luke is climbing a mountain. He’s watched by God and the angel Gabriel who discuss his progress. Luke stops and rests under a cedar tree. God compares Luke’s growth to the growth of the cedar tree using the word ‘Sagah’ – which means ‘threefold growth’.

He must grow up. This is physical growth – growing bigger and stronger; it’s also about emotional growth and development, growing up morally, taking responsibility, developing character.

He must also grow down. The tree – and Luke – must have firm, secure roots to bring stability and nutrition. With strong, deep roots the tree may bend but it won’t break when the wind blows.

He must grow out. As the tree matures it produces fruit, provides shelter, becomes more beautiful, it becomes a landmark. It can’t be hidden.

Peter quotes St Paul’s words: ‘…being rooted and established in love…’, ‘being blown here and there …by the cunningness and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming…’,’…’the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace… ‘

He says: ‘The cedar grows up, grows down and grows out. The branches are home to many birds, and the pollen and the aroma attract others…’

Musing on my ‘Sagah’ – my maturity and strength, my roots and stability, my beauty and fruit… and whether my branches offer shelter, a home to birds and food to passing pandas.

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