Jump Start # 2705
Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.”
I was watching some videos about history the other day. On this one episode, the host was taking us to a forgotten and abandoned graveyard. It was overgrown with weeds and trees. Most of the markers were gone. The few that were there were broken and unreadable. Each of those graves housed a life. A life that was marked with laughter and tears. A life of joys and trials. A life of love, worry, stress and hope. And, long ago, folks gathered to bury that beloved person. A life had ended and a soul was now in eternity. It was a touching show and remarkably, the narrator made a profound statement. As the short show ended, he said, “About three or four generations later a person is forgotten. We need to be working towards eternity.” How true that is.
And, how close that is to our verse today. Long ago Solomon wrote that the “memory of them is forgotten.” I was really thinking about that all night. I will use myself as an example. I am one generation. My sweet dad is a second generation. My grandfather, Otto, who was sixty when I was born, now on the other side of eternity, is a third generation. My four children are yet another generation, fourth. My grandchildren, all ten of them, are yet another generation, five. That’s probably confusing, but I hope not.
Five generations of my family I have known, two ahead of me and two behind me. My kids never knew my grandfather. One of my sons carries his middle name as his middle name. To my grandchildren, who are still too young to get any of this, my grandfather is just a name among names of our family history. Yet, just sixty years ago, my grandfather was my age today. Fast forward, if the Lord allows this world to carry on, in sixty years my grandkids will remember me, but for the most part my name will just be one of many in a line of descendants on the family tree. The memory of them is forgotten.
There are some things to consider:
First, God always remembers us. He won’t forget you. In Genesis eight, the chapter begins with “God remembered Noah…in the ark.” God had not forgotten Noah. He knew where Noah was all the time. It is more important that God knows us than people here on earth. I’ve got an old, old picture of my great-great grandfather. He was in the Civil War. He was a Christian. I’ve been to his grave. But do I know him? There is no one around that knew him. And, even if I could find diaries, letters and a trunk of old stuff, which doesn’t exist, that would be neat, but how would it change my day? We must not look in the rear view mirror of life, but straight ahead where we are going. God remembers. God knows. I must pour my energies into the eternal.
Second, the most important thing our families can remember about us is our walk with God. Footprints leading to Heaven is the greatest gift you can give your family. They may wish you had a stash of cash, but much too often that is more of a curse than a help. Knowing that you were a person of God and that you strove hard to please the Lord is the greatest thing you can do. I have traced my family religious history and that is much more fascinating to me. Some of the early Christians in Indiana were direct descendants. In their tiny log cabins they established a pathway back to the N.T. They worshipped, worked and loved the Lord. That legacy, that faith, those footprints mean much more to me than what they looked like.
Third, Heaven will be made up of many, many thousands of simple, common believers. It’s not the noble, famous and powerful that walk the streets of Heaven. It is just everyday people like you and me. We lived, loved and tried our best to walk with the Lord. We brought our families up to know Jesus. We strived to keep congregations strong, unified and growing. In the turmoil of our world, we have held on to hope and we have tried to develop the heart of Jesus within us. I like to think that some how when we get to Heaven we will know everyone—people that it is impossible for us to know today. Those in the middle ages that lived in small villages in Europe, that loved the Lord and followed Him with all their hearts. Those early martyrs who gave their very lives because they would not deny the Lord. Those on the other side of the planet even in this generation who walk humbly with the Lord. Thousands and thousands, just like you, who put the Lord first in their lives. I don’t see a massive crowd of strangers, but fellow believers. I see smiles. I see hearts leaping with joy. I see a common connection running through all of us. And, somehow, I want to think that we will know each other as if we have always known them. How can that be, especially if we have never met? The Lord can do mighty things. He can part seas, cause the sun to stand still, open tombs, and bring life to the lifeless. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.
I have been to massive crowds before. Thousands and thousands in attendance. I’ve been to the Indy 500, the Rose Bowl, even saw Paul McCartney in concert two times. Stadiums were packed. Standing room only. Thousands and thousands of strangers. Nothing in common with those people other than we came to see the same thing. Is that Heaven? The difference is that the crowd in Heaven will have more in common. We are related through the blood of Jesus. We are family in Christ. I hope and I believe that we will know everyone.
Finally, to what the host of the show I watched said, we need to be thinking and working for the eternal. We will spend more time on that side of life than on this side. Whether my family after me remembers me is not nearly as important as the choices I make this day about the Lord.
Years and years ago, an old guy wanted to take me to see this abandoned cemetery. We drove for a long time in his old pickup. We pulled into a field and drove through the grass, which I thought we’d be in trouble for. The grass was nearly knee high. He stopped the truck. There was nothing in sight. No fences. No houses. Nothing. He got out and walked a bit and stooped down and there was a tombstone. I joined him. We were in the midst of an old cemetery. One would never know that it was even there. I remember pulling the grass around one grave. At the bottom, under the name and dates it said, “Gone, but not forgotten.” I looked around at where we were and thought, “Yeah, I think they forgot you.” Someday that may be you and that may be me, but it’s ok if we are with the Lord. That’s all that matters.
Live for the Lord, not your name, your family or even your legacy.