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a worthwhile life

I was reading this story this morning in the Cedar Rapids Gazette (my local newspaper). The story is about the rediscovery, in northern Arkansas, of the thought-to-be-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker. This woodpecker sounds like a truly magnificent bird; it has a three-foot wingspan, and stands nearly 2 feet tall. But the thing that astonished me was the quote in the second sentence of the story. Here’s the lead:

Iowa conservationists and bird enthusiasts, like their counterparts worldwide, beamed with joy Thursday at the news that the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker, long believed to be extinct, has been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas.

‘‘This makes me think my life has been worthwhile,’’ said Leslee Spraggins, director of the Nature Conservancy in Iowa, who helped preserve portions of the Big Woods as director of the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas from 1993 to 2000.

The realization that her efforts likely contributed to the survival of a species thought to have vanished brought tears to her eyes, said Spraggins, 50, of Dubuque.

“This makes me think my life has been worthwhile.” Because they found a bird? In the woods? In Arkansas? I have nothing against said bird (see paragraph 1 of this post), or said woods, or said state, but a 50-year-old woman who find her life suddenly worthwhile because it has been found? This saddens me. Birds are magnificent creatures. And there is much to be said for nature conservancy; we need to be good stewards of the earth that we’re entrusted with. But they’re just birds.

It seems to me that rather than having some event suddenly make my life worthwhile when I’m 50 (some 22 years hence), I’d like to think through right now the things that would make my life worthwhile, so that I can pursue those things in the upcoming years. And as I make that list, I want them to be things of eternal significance, not just things that are going to burn at the end of time. So what would make my life “worthwhile”? Let me rephrase that. My life is already “worthwhile” because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if none of the thing I list happen, life has been worth living. But what are the things that will cause me to look back from age 50, or 60, or 70, with gratitude and say “Ahhh, it’s been a long road, but that makes it worth it all…”? Here’s just a few.

  • Seeing my child(ren) become mature believers who will in turn raise up godly children of their own.
  • Experiencing the joys of a marriage that has lasted 30, 40, 50 years.
  • Seeing new believers in the church because of my ministry; and seeing believers encouraged and challenged by my life.
  • Seeing leadership raised up in the Church to carry on ministry long after I’m gone.

This is just a short list, and I’m finding it challenging even as I’m writing it. These are goals that are long in the making… but they are achieved only one day at a time.

Be First to Comment

  1. Aaron Aaron

    Great perspective! I really enjoyed this, and I couldn´t agree with you more.

  2. Leslee Spraggins Leslee Spraggins

    The Ivory-bill news is not the ONLY thing that has made my life worthwhile!

    I also have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage that has lasted 30 years. And I have two beautiful, talented, responsible children. These things have certainly made my life worthwhile.

    But the Ivory-bill story is bigger than my personal relationships. It matters to many people, including the locals. I think God has called me to the work of conserving his creation.

  3. Leslee, thanks for finding this post and responding! I am excited to hear that you know Jesus and take that faith into your work in conservancy. Thanks for adding the real story to that which I read in the newspaper.

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