Why so many trees? When I was at Samford University the president, Andy Westmoreland, once said that people must wonder where and why he is planting so many trees. I did not understand the reference until I had been there a little longer and heard him repeat many times, “We are planting trees under whose shade we will never sit.” I’m not sure the statement is original to him, but he can certainly be credited for popularizing it around campus. What did he mean by it? He meant that he took the long view and hoped that everyone else would too. He meant that the work he did wasn’t just for the present but was intentionally planned to serve the future – even a future beyond his tenure or experience.
In the same vein, I recently read the graduation address of a former professor of mine. He had been asked to speak to the graduating class this past May but was too weak from advanced pancreatic cancer to fulfill that obligation, so he sent his comments in written form which, thankfully, meant they could be posted for all to read. Among the many things that struck me was how keenly aware he had become of serving a future he was not likely to be a part of. His instinct was exactly right, for he passed away a couple of weeks later. How wonderful, though, that he was able to pass along this perspective to others – that, whether we recognize it or not, we are all serving a future we cannot see.
I tell you these two stories because they encapsulate the reason why we put such a strong emphasis on children here at Christ Baptist. We all know that children are our future, but it is important that our actions match our words. The work that Jamie Hyden has done since becoming our director for children’s ministry has been great not just because he has been able to raise up and organize so many volunteers to help lead Sunday school and children’s worship each week, but because everything he does is motivated by giving God glory through reaching children for Christ.
As good a job as Jamie is doing, he cannot do it all alone, and thanks to 150 volunteers led by Laura Jackson and Traci Bennett, we had over 200 children participate in our VBS this past week, and 13 of those children made a profession of faith. Moreover, through the generosity of the families involved, we raised almost $2,300 for the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.
We should rejoice over salvation, generosity and hard work, but we must not become complacent. We must continually seek to be about the work of planting trees under whose shade we will not sit. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if next year and beyond our VBS could make use of the planned family recreation area? After all, it’s not just a space, it’s a way to serve the future.