Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Forest For the Trees and All That Jazz

"He said to me I was a tree in a story about a forest, and that it was arrogant of me to believe any differently. And he told me the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree." - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, p. 198

As the story goes, these words were proverbially whispered into Donald Miller's ear by Victor Frankl. And now they're being whispered into mine. I've heard the adage about not losing the forest for the trees over and again, but I'd never found it as liberating as the whispered words of Frankl.

As a pastor, it seems that I am charged with the cultivation of a small section of the forest. This means sometimes paying extra attention to certain trees at certain times. Yet my ultimate call is to serve the forest. My call is to recount the story of the forest to a bunch of trees, and hope that they can see beyond themselves enough to get excited about the forest which they've been planted in all along. My call is to lead our little section of the forest faithfully, that we may bring glory to the One who created and planted the entire forest.

The metaphor falls apart if I try to take it too much further, as the differences between trees and people become too great, but it seems to work well to illustrate community. As far as I know, trees don't have thoughts, but how silly would it be for a single tree to think the entire forest revolved around it? Or that it could survive without all the other trees? Or without water and sun?

May we live for the Kingdom of God, not our kingdom. And when our kingdom comes crashing down around us, may the Kingdom be made evident in the loving words and works of His church. And may we be so caught up in the magnetic pull of the Kingdom that we forget our kingdom ever existed.

The story of the King and His Kingdom is better than the story of little kingdom that tried to compete.

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