Have you noticed how we love competition these days? Any night of the week, we can watch “ordinary” people compete to cook, to dance, to survive and even to fall in love! Hey, let the best man/woman win, right? It’s like me watching “Chopped.” Four chefs have to create fine dining with an odd assortment of ingredients in a common basket. Hey, I do that all the time! Not the fine dining part, but the scrambling to make do!
So what do all these competitions say about us? One thing is clear, I am rewarded If I produce better than anyone else. That kind of thinking keeps me moving. I can exhaust myself on any given day. Am I making progress or have I inadvertently bought into the treadmill approach to life? Do striving and competition really bring greater productivity?
When I can’t sleep at night, I go to a happy place I create in my mind. Okay, don’t judge! I imagine different places, but they are all beautiful. One is a condo on the ocean. My windows are open to feel salty breezes and hear pounding surf. Another is a log cabin I created on our family farm in Missouri. It has a desk with open windows nearby, too.
Why is it that my happy places are all beautiful? Beauty hardly seems mandatory in everyday life. I mean, I have a job to do, beauty or not. So what is its value?
An apple tree looks squatty and nondescript throughout the winter season. But in the spring, blossoms permeate the air with sweetness. They are extravagant beauty! Are they just a nice addition? If we look to learn, creation teaches us. An apple tree is a model of the God kind of productivity. Those fragrant blossoms are more than a sensory delight. They are a sign that fruit is on the way.
What an amazing God Who causes the blossom, the beauty, to signal fruitfulness? An apple doesn’t strive to pop out of the branch. It just stays attached and beauty comes. After the beauty, we find the nourishing fruit. How simple. Get attached and stay attached. The beauty comes. It overcomes stench. Its sweetness reminds us He is stronger.
Rest is beauty’s message. It’s all about how we assign value. Are we driven to perform hard and fast enough to be deemed successful by some arbitrary judge? Or is there a Judge Who is also a Vine? He says, “Come, secure your hopes and dreams to Me. My fragrance will permeate your life and yield a fruitfulness that feeds you and others with delight.”
He’s good. Yes, that good!