Progress can sometimes cause ugly results. When I saw this tree I was stunned at how deformed it was. A once beautiful tree was now deformed and almost unrecognizable. Somewhere along the way the city decided to cut out a huge section of this tree to make room for progress. In this case, the progress was power lines to light up our homes and businesses. The cost of this progress was an ugly tree.
This is probably not a bad trade off in the grand scheme of things – businesses need power and so do homes and schools, so to sacrifice one tree’s beauty seems reasonable. However there are other trade-offs that have far worse consequences and create deformities that are more personal and longer lasting.
In our advanced culture, there are many ways to bring progress to our lives including:
- Merging your company with another.
- Going back to school to get another degree.
- Taking on a second job.
- Going after a promotion to get to the next level.
- Starting a multi-level business or a work-at-home business.
- Writing a book.
- Changing jobs for more money or position.
- Buying a new bass boat.
- Pursuing the dream of playing on the PGA.
- Volunteering for a high-profile non-profit.
- Staying at work late in order to open a new division and grow profits.
Most of us strive for progress in our business, family, spiritual, social and friend environments. When we are faced with ways to improve our lives and advance, there is always a cost. Time is one of the costs of advancement. Things always seem to take more time than we envision….that time, for the new venture invariably edges out other things in our lives.
Protecting the things we truly cherish is at the heart of progress. So, stop……stop for 20 seconds and consider what is most valuable to you that needs protecting? Is it your family time, your study time, quality time with your best friend or spouse, your worship time, your hobby time? We recently planted a garden in our backyard and I now find great pleasure and peace in clipping shrubs and weeding the beds. This is a hobby that creates rest for my soul and my mind. I need this in my life….adding a new project right now would eat into or completely push out my quiet time in the garden.
In our rushed culture, I think we all need to set aside time for things like clipping flowers.
The big decisions in life like job changes and promotions are sometimes the hardest to turn down. A friend of mine, recently decided not to pursue the progress of a promotion in order to protect and continue spending quality time with his wife and young children. This guy is a hero to me. He’s decided that he wants a full oak tree with as few broken limbs as possible…and…his tree is full….full of life, full of blooms.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with volunteering for a great organization or getting a second degree or pursuing advancement in your career. It’s measuring the cost that’s important. Once a poor decision is made to have progress and the damage is done to the things you really love, it sometimes takes years to repair the damage.
The tree in the picture above may eventually grow back, but it will take many, many years. Want some good news? God is faithful to help us learn from our past mistakes and move on, ask for forgiveness and begin the process of rebuilding and repairing. God is a God of restoration.
The Bible says in Joel 2:25, “And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten–the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust, My great army which I sent among you.”
So, if you’ve made decisions for the sake of progress and left a path of destruction, God says all hope is not lost.
Luke 14:28 says “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first counting the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it” New Living Translation.