There’s an old proverb that says, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
That is, most of what we are able to do today is because someone who went before us years ago–or even decades ago–took a chance, made a sacrifice, had a fledgling idea, or paid the price to build a foundation that we’re standing on. Or, plant a tree that we’re sitting under.
I am especially aware of that as we approach another life-changing week of Vacation Bible School at Shelby Crossings. Who knows what kind of eternal dividends will come from the investment we make into the lives of children and their families in the week ahead? What kind of shade–and fruit–will come from the trees we plant?
Of course, it doesn’t require a special week like VBS to appreciate the investments of those who have gone before us, and the efforts at tree-planting that provide the blessing of shade for us today. I know I would not be where I am as pastor of such a great church like Shelby Crossings had there not been others who had the vision to plant this ministry to begin with, or had given so much of their lives into making this church what it is today.
Some people spend a lot of time talking about “generational curses,” and the effects that a legacy of sin has on future generations. And I have sure seen the evidence of the negative influence of bad decisions passed down from one generation to the next. But in this case we’re talking about a positive legacy. Or, we could call it a stewardship of opportunity.
The apostle Paul charged his “son in the faith” Timothy with these words: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) He was talking about building on the legacy of those who have gone before you, and passing that on to others.
With that in mind, the question for all of us to consider is: Who will be sitting in the shade of our hard work twenty years from now? Or more to the point: Will there be shade to sit in? It depends on our planting trees today.
When you share your faith, and lead others to Christ, you’re planting trees. When you make disciples–whether it’s your children, or other believers–you’re planting trees. When you serve faithfully in Vacation Bible School, impacting the lives of children and their families, you’re planting trees. When you help others develop Christian character, or improve their marriage, or parent more effectively, or become a more loyal friend, you’re planting trees.
The truth is, if we’re not careful, most of what we do today is just putting out fires to make it through another day. However, we must not let today’s urgencies prevent us from living intentionally to establish a legacy worth passing down, and making some shade for the next generation.
They may not thank us for it, but God will be honored through it.
- I’m thankful for each of you, and I’m praying for you. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.