Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Looking Forward: Doing Things That Outlive Us

"Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God." Genesis 21:33

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that we read and really give very little thought to. When I studied Ray Vander Laan's Faith Lessons "Walking With God in the Desert", I learned a lot about the trees found in the Bible which really made the Scriptures come alive for me. The verse above is one of them. Dr. Vander Laan (who also happened to be my Bible and Psychology teacher in highschool), gives some insight into this tree. The tamarisk tree demands human cultivation needing plenty of water and the animals (like camels and goats) to be kept away from it while it is growing. The tamarisk tree absorbs moisture from the air in its needles making it a valued shade tree. However, this tree is extremely slow growing. You don't plant a tamarisk tree for yourself, or for your children. But, if nurtured properly, your great grandkids will enjoy its shade. Therefore Abraham had the faith to believe that his simple act of planting a tamarisk tree in Beersheba would someday bless his offspring. Although this tree would never benefit Abraham, it would bring future generations the shade so necessary in that very hot, dry climate.

What lesson can we learn from this little verse? As we stand at the beginning of a brand new year, what am I doing that will bless generations to come? How much of my life is simply about me? Its so easy in our fast paced, self-absorbed society to think about my own needs and desires. The message we are bombarded with all around us is to take care of ourselves, to pamper ourselves- after all, we deserve it! In Isaiah 32 women are warned of the consequences of complacency and ease. It is easy to live for our own pleasure and enjoyment. We must be deliberate in our actions to bless generations to come. It may even require sacrifice on our part...

With God's help we can do things that will outlive us. What does this look like? For one, I think the most important thing we can do is to purpose to train the next generation to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. According to Dueteronomy 6:5-7 we are to do this all the time- while we sit, while we walk, when we lie down and when we wake up. This means that we need to be intentional in sharing our faith with our children. We need to fill our cup daily with His Word, so that we can spill over what we have hidden in our hearts with our children.

I think another way we can bless future generations is to teach our children to do things well so that they will make an impact in the world. My husband is in construction and calls himself a generational builder. He says that everything he builds, whether a barn, a table, a porch or a house should last for hundreds of years. He believes that if he uses quality materials and does quality, careful work, there is no reason that his work shouldn't be enjoyed for many generations to come. That's how it used to be! We live in a day and age where we often see shoddy craftsmanship- work is done as cheaply and quickly as possible with little thought or care  for whether it will last or not. We need to go back to the work ethic of days gone by and teach our children to rise above the mediocrity that is so prevalent today.

Like Abraham we may choose to plant a tree in the year to come. Or we may cultivate a garden, write a book or compose a song. We may build a home, serve in a shelter or volunteer in a pregnancy center. We might go on a missions trip or bring a meal to a lonely friend. Or we may simply read God's Word to our little ones before they drift off to sleep each night. We can all strive to reach beyond ourselves and do things that may impact people for generations to come. Let's purpose to plant some tamarisk trees in the year ahead!

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