Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: We Sit In The Shade Of Trees ....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Sit In The Shade Of Trees ....

... planted by others.

So said Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, President of Samford University. He was in our worship services today, for a presentation to Brother Mike Shaw, our pastor, who is retiring at the end of this month. He was commended by the Trustees, formally, and by faculty and many others associated with Samford for his many years of faithful service to God, the churches he's served, and many entities of the SBC.

During his presentation, he spoke the words above; "We sit in the shade of trees planted by others". That reflects the long-range effects of the things we do, and applies to positive as well as the negative things, a fact I feel may not be adequately ingrained into our youth today.

But what Dr. Westmoreland said stirred a memory in my mind. It was the first time Mom and I drove up to 7902 Barlum Drive in Indianapolis. We were moving there, from a suburb of Chicago, the first week of May in 1953. That's the house in the picture above, taken a couple years later.

When we first drove up on the house, Dad was mowing the (mostly weeds) front lawn with a garden tractor with a sickle bar on the front. Lying up by the house were several five or six-foot-tall saplings, about as big around as your thumb. I helped Dad plant them that day or the next.

We lived in that house for several years; we thought we'd "died and gone to heaven", as it was about three times the size of our house in Calumet City, where we'd lived since I was born.

Now: with the addition of "Street View" to Google Earth, I thought it'd be fun to go back and check out some of the homes I've lived in over the past 75 ... it'll be 76 years when tomorrow rolls around ... just to see what they looked like, and looked like to me now. Well, here's the Barlum Drive house, today:

They've made a couple changes to the house itself ... added a garage at the other end, and closed in the old garage and re-purposed that space. The driveways are, of course, all new. But that's not what really struck me.

I've often used the line, referring to my advancing age, that "I'm older than some really big trees". But I don't say that, now. It's not funny any more; it's simply true. I was already 15 when we planted the trees!

And that got me to thinking about more important matters than the size of trees or the configuration of a house. It caused me to reflect on the long-range effects of the things we do here, particularly in His service, and what may come, some day, from our efforts.

In this hurried-up results-oriented society we live in, we're used to measuring the importance of what we do by the results we can see. When we send folks out witnessing, we want to know how may contacts, how many testimonies, how many prayers, etc. We like to tally results, track the people, and modify what we're doing to get the results we'd like to see. But that ignores a couple of things.

One of them is that we're not responsible for the results of what we do. That part is God's exclusively. I've been harping on this in class for a long, long time; it's not so much what we do, as it is what God does with what we do. He tells us about that, plainly, in 1 Corinthians 3:

"What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants not the one who waters is anything, but God Who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor."

Besides, when we're about His work, we're not the only folks on the scene, at work. As Paul explains further:

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building".

Sometimes, God is grateful to "lift the veil" as it were, and let us see the results of what we do here. But that's really "icing on the cake", since our victory is in the doing, and not in the results. The results are exclusively God's, and I for one am supremely grateful it's His team we're on.

I heard a story attributed to Billy Graham, many years ago. It may be apocryphal, but it does have a ring of truth about it. He was asked to name some of the folks who'd been important in his Spiritual life; one person he put on the short list was a Sunday School teacher who'd taught him for 3 years of his youth. She was the prototypical grey-haired little old lady who taught him, prayed for him, called when he missed a week, visited when he was sick ... all the things we attribute to an exemplary Sunday School teacher with a children's class. But the real kicker, in the story I was told:

Billy was her only student!

Just think of how many people, over the past half century or more, who have "sat in the shade of this tree she planted"...

Such a deal! We serve a God Who tells us that He'll handle the results, if we'll just tell the story. And unless we can guarantee that the folks to whom we're ministering will absolutely not be the world's next Billy Graham or Charles Haddon Spurgeon or Adoniram Judson, then we have no guarantee of how many folks will some day find that special place of comfort in the shade of a tree we planted.

Just remember who's running the team we're on. 


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