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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Failure (03/01/04)

TITLE: Impressive Failure
By Donna Haug


Impressive Failure
By: Donna Haug
March 6, 2004

To what lengths would YOU go to impress someone?

This past July a special event was taking place in Mozambique. Dignitaries from across Africa were converging in our capital city of Maputo for the African Union Summit. What a privilege and a thrill for this country, which just over 10 years ago was in the middle of civil war!

Do you know the feeling of rushing around your house trying to get everything tidied up just so for special visitors? This is exactly what happened in Maputo in the months before these meetings! Garbage, which routinely overflowed the large bins placed obstructively at the side of the road, was swept up and taken away. Garbage cans were even placed along the beach sidewalk as an incentive for people to place garbage there rather than letting it drop – a message that seemed to be totally lost on the population! A huge convention center was constructed on an empty lot at a location with a lovely view of the Indian Ocean. All throughout the city the street medians were suddenly decorated with flags and greenery. One particular street that leads from downtown, past the embassies, and towards the beach was presented with an incredible gift in the weeks before the dignitaries arrived. All along the median, the city workers transplanted eight-foot tall palm trees! Their beautiful green branches arched along the center of the busy avenue.

Unfortunately, they didn’t count on one fairly major problem – transplanting mature trees is a delicate task and requires great care and maintenance. Though this country’s resources are not abundant, immediate beauty was top priority, so the trees valiantly lifted their arms to the sky … for about a week. During the week of the summit the palm trees were attempting to put on a brave face but looked a little sad. Soon the outer branches began to turn an unattractive shade of brown, slowly drooping and becoming brittle. . Those of us who live here shook our heads as we watched them slowly deteriorate until today most of them are just brown trunks devoid of any branches. They brought beauty for a moment but it was a beauty that could not last.

Have you ever been guilty of hurriedly caring for external appearances so that others will be impressed without taking the time or effort required to make the heart changes that are long lasting and fruitful? Consider the words of God to Samuel: “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” (I Sam. 16:7 The Message)

Avoid impressive failure – it’s time for a heart check! Remember, it’s better to start small and grow than to start with a WOW and wilt!

Member Comments
Member Date
Christine Rhee03/08/04
Donna, I really like your title. How much better it is to go for the "real thing", huh?
Corinne Smelker 03/08/04
This sounds so familiar!! South African government does the same thing!

Well written, and a good way to look at the topic!
Lawrence Farlow03/08/04
This is excellent! Such a wonderful analogy comparing the overly quick installation of the palm trees with the way we (I) often spruce up the high profile areas of life but leave the less obvious but more important ones uncared for. God bless you!
Dave Wagner03/09/04
Very nice, indeed. Concise, nicely constructed and, above all, full of meaning! A very worthwhile read, and something to meditate on.

>> ...a message that seemed to be totally lost on the population!<<

That's a great line. I also like the "WOW and wilt" line at the end. Reminds me of the seed that sprouts in rocky soil.
Mary Elder-Criss03/10/04
Donna~As usual, an impressive piece. It really touched home with me...We worry so much about outside appearances, and yet are so reluctant to let God do the sprucing up of our souls. Thanks for this. Mary
Lynne Cox03/12/04
This was so interesting, I liked the way you wound the story and the message together.
Donna Anderson03/13/04
This reminded me of the Christmas my husband came home with a way-to-tall tree with sad, sparse branches. He sawed the top limbs off and stuck them into holes he drilled into the sappy, skinny trunk! I called it my 'AmpuTree'! lol
Your article is treeific! ;)
Linda Germain 03/13/04
I love "the palm trees were attempting to put on a brave face"

Outside the kitchen window is a tall sturdy birch tree with NO LIMBS. Technically, it is dead and just hasn't fallen over, but my step-mother has three little birdhouses attached to its side. She adores watching the little families move in every year. We have prayed the old torso will keep standing, and it does! I suggested nailing some limbs on just for looks...she likes it the way it is. It is deader than 4 o'clock but is still useful. The old roots must go down pretty far. ANYWAY, loved your story... :0)