Behind an apartment at the edge of town stands an arbor. Six feet high, it was designed and built to support climbing plants, and it has been put to good use. The residents have planted climbing roses at the base of the arbor posts, and then added trellises to help the roses climb to the top. Beneath the arbor are shrubs, flowering bushes, and statuary. Hanging from the rungs at the top are bird-feeders. The arbor is beautiful to see, and undoubtedly a source of great pleasure to its owners.
Nearby sits a second arbor. Almost identical to the first, it stands stark, bare, and unused. Its sole adornment is a fading, yellow thermometer, nailed to one of the posts. With nothing to cover it, the wood appears much older and more weathered. A monument to futility and unrealized purpose, the second arbor stands stark, bare, and wasted.
Your life stands like an arbor, a gift from God, waiting to be used. You can choose to complain that your arbor is too short, or too weathered, or not as nice as somebody else’s, or you can start planting. God is not going to judge you on whether your life flowered as beautifully as someone else’s. But God will judge you on whether you used what he gave you or not.
Beethoven could have complained that his hearing was worse than others, and excused himself from even trying. He chose to plant instead, and in the process, revolutionized music.
The famous physicist Steven Hawking could have complained that few other people have to cope with a debilitating illness like his. Instead, he chose to plant, and revolutionized the science of physics.
For every arbor larger than yours, I can show you one that is smaller or more dilapidated or more limited. The choice is yours: complain, or start planting.
Your life is God’s gift to you. What you make of it is your gift to God.