In a waiting room, two people sit in uncomfortable chairs: a man waiting for his wife and a woman waiting to be seen by the doctor. I am the woman. I notice the man; his black hat positioned high upon his head; his tall frame bent like a feeble branch holding a weighted Christmas ornament.
“Thank you for your service,” I say, noticing the Korean War veteran embroidered markings on his ball cap.
He looks startled as if he should know me because I know something about him. After a pause, he points slightly to his hat and nods.
“As tough as it was, I was proud to serve.” There is a slight straightening of his back; the muscles in his jawline expand as he finishes his sentence with an added nod.
I will never know the thoughts which flashed across his mind at that moment… but I can tell they hold an energy that has outlasted the stamina of his physical body.
The man eventually leaves, escorted by his wife who gingerly tucks the palm of her hand under his elbow to keep him steady.
I am now left with the distraction of the television which streams calm scenes of varying landscapes. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, the world’s largest mountain carving and sculpture Mount Rushmore is shown with such clarity on the screen that I am mesmerized. In curious awe of the magnitude of such an undertaking, I forget my place and jump when the nurse calls my name.
My curiosity follows me into the small examination room as I continue to wait for the doctor. I look up Mount Rushmore on my phone and discover a little fact that touches my soul. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum didn’t start the project until he was 60 years of age. He passed away before Mount Rushmore was completed. His son Lincoln finished the work.
Later that day, I can’t stop thinking about the veteran and the sculptor.
I did some more research. The idea of Mount Rushmore was born in the imagination of historian Doane Robinson. Robinson wanted the sculptures to represent American West heroes; however, Borglum wanted the exposure of this work to reach a greater audience - thus, the faces of four presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt) emerged.
Regardless of his age and stage in life, Borglum wanted to make the biggest impact with his talents. He lived with zest. Borglum looked at his mountain… and he carved.
We each have a mountain that we find ourselves upon, sometimes the terrain changes depending upon the season of life, but the mountain is part of our landscape of living and learning. We hope to make more progress than mishaps: to see more summits than valleys. Whether the mountain is a teen’s struggle with grades and friends, a family trying to provide within a sparse budget, or a recent widow who wears a smile but hardly has the desire to push forward – these mountains are real regardless if we are witness to the climb. Yes, just as wars of old and those yet to come have and will be very, very real, so are the wars we fight on battlefields that have us often only seeing the next step of faith and no more.
And yet, may we all be able to say regardless of how tough the climb, we were proud to serve God with each step.
Mount Rushmore was created with a vision to reach others, and Borglum inspired this vision in his son who completed the job. A legacy of purpose. A purpose far greater than his age, his abilities, and even his life.
May we be soldiers for Christ, using our gifts and talents not to feel defeated or smart by comparison, but to reach others as an example of what eternal love eternally does to a person.
What is the legacy you wish to inspire? What is your focus?
There is no focus, no purpose, apart from a focused purpose on Christ Jesus that will last for eternity… beginning today.
Look at your mountain… and carve.
Live as one who gives evidence to faith.
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:20).
Faith must be rooted in God (more than emotions, circumstances, or self/others) in order to recognize God’s power in and through you. Move those stones of doubt and despair; let them stumble into the darkness where they belong! Trust God and continue to be held steady by God’s unchanging character, promises, grace, and love.
Yes, regardless of your age or stage, sculpt your life as a servant for the Lord until the day arrives when you have reached the summit of all: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
“As tough as it was, I was proud to serve,” said the veteran with a nod.
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram:@tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.