In the background

One of the most important elements in landscaping is also one of the most neglected, the concept of creating a good backdrop for our featured, prized horticultural specimens.

Picture a colorful drift of tulips in a nicely mulched three foot wide garden bed. Now picture that same vignette with a backdrop of lush evergreens, possibly interspersed with the contrasting browns, tans, and whites of a pretty stand of birch trees.

A good backdrop gives substance to the garden, and helps tie it all together. Without it, the hardworking gardener is rewarded for her labors with only a drab collection of plants scattered on the ground. The scenery beyond those plants can make or break the landscape.

The height of an emerald arborvitae or a stand of poplars will screen out the longer vistas and train the observer’s eye to focus on the vegetation in the foreground.

So it is with some of the people with whom we come in contact. We don’t give a second thought about how they helped our lives stand out, in the same way that a good backdrop in the garden helps to focus attention on the star of the show.

For a few weeks, I am enjoying a temporary role as a backdrop of sorts to my beloved grandchildren. My attention is divided (sometimes demandingly) among five little people. Due to the long distance that usually separates us, I fully understand that mine is only a “supporting role” in the lives of these precious young ones.

Even so, this limited contact may make a difference for them that is not evident right away. If I can help them stand out and shine in a positive way, I’m happy to be that nondescript evergreen tree behind the stunning floral display of their childhood.

Some occupations in the periphery of influence are more noticeable than others, but all have the potential of supporting others. Teachers, both at school and in Bible classes, can do so much to help make someone reach their full potential!

A preacher’s or elder’s wife may feel she is insignificant, but the effect of her anchoring influence is immeasurable. Even school bus drivers, the neighbor that you might see occasionally, and the clerk at the corner grocery are minor players in the drama of life. Some of them may not rise to the level of an imposing backdrop of poplars, but their influence can certainly be felt.

Timothy had some great background people that helped him become a notable example for young people throughout the ages. Those background people were important!

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5, NASB).

As we all grow together, let’s all remember what a privilege it is to take our turns at playing the important role in the background, as we encourage one another to do our best.

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