Planning Ahead

New College, Oxford, is of rather late foundation, hence the name. It was only founded around the late 14th century.

It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with big oak beams across the top. These might be two feet square, forty-five feet long. It is an architectural phenomenon that visitors always purpose to see. Constructed over 500 years ago, this glorious building was fashioned and carefully crafted to carry out the lineage of the University it served.

A century ago, an entomologist with far too much time on his hands, went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife, poked at the beams, and found that they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, who met in some dismay, because where would they get beams of that caliber?

Immediately they sent out a word throughout England, the British Isles, and Europe for oak beams to replace those in the dining hall. They even sent word to The United States and Africa. The response back from all was consistent. No trees currently existed that were large enough to form the oak beams to span the great dining hall. The university directorship was stymied.

Shortly after, a caretaker rummaging about in the dining hall basement came upon large leather documents carefully rolled and fastened. Unrolling the documents, he found the architectural plans for the great 500-year-old building-still carefully preserved.

Next, he unrolled the great gardening plan and saw that the master gardeners had drawn landscaping plans for the first 5, 10, and 20 years. Upon careful inspection, he also noted that the gardening plan for the university spanned beyond to 100, 200 and up to 500 years. The last document unrolled revealed the greatest treasure for it was the plan for repairs of the great dining hall. In addition, like the other documents, it also contained a 500-year time line, carefully delineating the repairs the grand building would need.

At the 500-year mark the early architects noted, the oak beams would need to be replaced. They provided the landscaping plan with clear direction to their posterity to find the mature oak trees they had planted on the university grounds the year the dining hall was constructed. The university directorship located the oaks and without further ado, extracted the oaks, constructed the beams and replaced them. I hope that they also planted small oak saplings that would grow and be ready to take the place of their predecessors in the great dining hall.

Let us remember always to plant trees that will outlast us; whether they be a home, family, ideas, or ideals.

Have vision for decades and centuries out beyond and make a difference that, God willing, will extend His kingdom and bring Him glory.


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