Galen Anderson wrote, “A man’s life is like either the tumbleweed or the oak tree. Some people just grow like the weed. They are of no value in their youth and, as the years of life come, they break loose and become a blotch on society. They have no useful purpose in life — just drifters. Their loved ones will mourn their loss, but society will not miss them.”
He continued, “Then there are those whose lives are like the oak. They have turned from the frivolity of this life and have invested in things that have genuine worth. Their influence for good will live on in the lives of others after they are gone. Their death is noticed because their lives were spent in bettering the nation and the community. They will be missed.”
Anderson then asked the question: “Would you rather be a tumbleweed or an oak in your influence on others?”
A retired man was asked what would he do differently if he could relive his years. He replied he would put the five R’s into practice: Risk, Rely, Relax, Repent and Reflect.
First, he would take more risks — would venture out in faith and second, rely more on God — he would trust his Lord to direct his paths.
Third, he would learn to relax and not fret about what others are doing or not doing. He would determine what could he do in any situation and not worry about what he could not do. He would not give all his time to work, but keep his family the center of his life — not burdening them down with his anxieties, take walks, listen to the birds, lay on the ground with his children and watch the clouds go by.
He would not be afraid to repent often — to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” He would allow hurts to heal and strengthen bonds and be quick to right wrongs.
And finally, he would stop all along in life and reflect on what was in the past; what was happening in the present; and what to hope for in the future — using his experience to find his way through the present and plan for the future that lay in God’s hands.
We hear the phrase, “growing old gracefully,” and this seems to be the synopsis of David’s treatise on age as he looks back at his life in Psalm 71. The writer (presumed to be the aged David) asks God for deliverance, strength, comfort, hope and joy. When my strength fails, he says, “I will go into the strength of the Lord God.” He was full of praise and honor to God.
“I’ll praise You,” he declares to God. “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and salvation all the day” (Psalm 71:15 KJV). There was still meaning in his life.
In a “Peanuts” comic strip, there was a conversation between Lucy and Charlie Brown. Lucy said that life is like a deck chair — some place it so they can see where they are going; some place it so they can see where they have been; and some place it so they can see where they are at present.
Charlie Brown’s response was “I can’t even get mine unfolded.”
Do you have a problem getting your deck chair unfolded? It’s not a matter of placing it in a desired place — that’s not the problem. Finding the purpose is. Some people go through life never recognizing their purpose. They’re always searching and never really living — just an empty existence — like a tumbleweed.
So the question: “Would you rather be a tumbleweed or an oak?”