Ever feel like you’re doing so much to make a name for yourself and then fear it’s all for nothing?
Perhaps questions like these race through your mind as they often do mine:
what if I fail?
what if no one notices?
am I good enough?
will I ever see the fruit of my labor?
If you’ve felt inadequate in any way, shape, or form, dive into what God taught me on the first day of our honeymoon with me.
Today we visited the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It’s also known as the largest mansion in the United States. Sitting on 8,000 acres complete with limestone from Bloomington Indiana (Go Hoosiers!), ornate wrap around staircases, and each and every nook and cranny smothered with intricate detail, it was impossible not to be impressed.
We opted for a rooftop tour. At first we wondered if it’d be a wasted $40 but on top of the beautiful scenery, the lesson our hearts received in the process of standing atop the fortress made it worth every penny.
The views nearly took our breath away as our sweet old little tour guide chattered about the architecture with his toothy grin and wrinkly skin. We learned that the owner of the fortress was George Vanderbilt. George had two brothers to whom his father left the majority of his fortune to in 1898. One received 70 million, the other 60 million. But George? Poor George only received a measly 10 million (equivalent to about $250 million today).
Perhaps in response to feeling cheated or inadequate, George set out to make a name for himself. He had to be noticed. So, his initials have since been embossed, carved, and cut into nearly every piece of the mansion.
Standing on the roof, I noticed panels with his initials that looked as though they used to be copper. I asked our toothy tour guide and he confirmed, it indeed used to be copper. Then he added that copper wasn’t enough for George. The designs were also covered in GOLD. I wouldn’t have even noticed! The gold had completely worn away and the copper has turned to turquoise green as copper does when it decays.
Before the tour ended, we also learned that Mr. George Vanderbilt passed away before the project was complete. He never even saw the fruit of his labor. And he couldn’t take it with him. It still sits on the same plot of earth, decaying a little more day by day.
And it struck me because I realized how much we tend to act like George Vanderbilt when the pang of inadequacy or comparison stabs us right in the gut. When we dream and work and build our walls high, it’s easy to forget the bigger picture. It’s easy to get caught up in the stamp we make on a plot of land instead of on people’s hearts.
So maybe your life or work feels fruitless, empty, or meaningless. And maybe you’re building your walls up high just trying to make a name for yourself. And maybe copper isn’t enough and you’re smothering your image and name with earthly gold that’ll rot away in a matter of years.
If that sounds like you, let me encourage you not to be like George. Don’t forget it’s not about impressing but impacting. It’s not about big beautiful things but serving and loving like Jesus. That’s the REAL gold, anyway. Because impressing the world simply builds castles of earth that will wear away. Impacting the world builds Christ’s kingdom that withstands the test of time.
What’s your heart set on?