The Legacy Tree
At what point do we realize success isn’t enough?
When does the job title feel empty? At what point does money feel fleeting after it’s spent and wealth seem trivial sitting in an account? We are taught that success is important. It’s what our parents wanted for us and what we want for our children. Through this idealization we define failure, develop a fear for it, and devote ourselves to whatever we think is the opposite of that definition. At some point, we feel far enough away that we consider ourselves successful. But does it feel like our expectations? What impact does it have on us and the world around us?
We need to shift from “success” to “significance”.
We may have a misnomer ingrained in us. How would it change the way we look back on our lives if we redefine that original goal not as success, but as security? And that failure we’ve been working to avoid is insecurity, or dependence, or instability. That in itself isn’t harmful or wrong, in fact it’s completely understandable. Yet, a reminder to be made is that throughout the Bible, God isn’t very concerned with what we understand as security. Independence is always proven to be inferior to dependence upon God, and the call upon many people’s lives in Scripture includes insecurity and instability. Regardless of whether we look at it as success or security, there is something temporary about life through this lens. We can instead work towards a life of significance.
Significance is about purpose, not fear.
Instead of being concerned with the temporary and the immediate, we can identify with the scriptural challenge to set our sights on the eternal. Within God’s kingdom, there is work to be done that outlasts our earthly lives. And working for the kingdom provides a sense of purpose and drive that changes the way we live, because we are no longer motivated by fear. We experience a transformation because of this calling. But not only that, the impact we have is wider-reaching and longer-lasting than what striving for security. God’s design for His kingdom began with calling us to tend it, grow it, and nurture it in the form of a garden, so it could last eternally.
That’s why we love trees.
Trees stand tall, spread wide, and last generations. And perhaps more significantly, those who plant them don’t get to see the fullness of what they become. Yet, we plant them anyway. For our children, for the coming generations, and for the world, we diligently put in work that nurtures and beautifies God’s kingdom. The gift God has given us is that we can plant trees in our lives. Yes, physical ones, but also seeds of love, trust, and forgiveness that grow to be much larger than we originally could imagine. What would it look like if we got back to that? What would it look like to go back to gardening?
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