It’s Memorial Day, the day we all remember those who died in the military while defending our country and our freedoms.
Odds are, you may have someone in your family who made such a sacrifice, so take a moment to remember them. For some, it will be someone close to you, who you remember every day. Or perhaps it’s the grandparent who fought in Vietnam or Korea, who you never got to meet and only know through old pictures or stories. Or a great-grandparent in WWII, or great-great-grandparent in WWI…
Wait, you mean you don’t know? You seriously have no idea who your great-great-grandparents are? You don’t know their names, where they lived, what they did, or when or how they died? But they’re family?! Without them, you wouldn’t even be here! As far as we know, they might have been truly great people (great-great, even). And, if you’re young enough to still have living grandparents, odds are at least some of your great-great-grandparents (assuming they didn’t die in a war) were still alive just 50 or 60 years ago. Just one generation before you were born. We’re not talking ancient history; your great-great grandmother might have driven a Mustang and been a Beatles fan. And you have no idea what her name is.
What’s my point here?
We all want to be great. We want to do something with our lives that really makes a difference. We want to change the world, and the majority of my generation wants to get famous in the process. So we chase after fame, and money, and prestige, and power, and respect, and we try to make a name for ourselves. And then we die, and 50 or 60 years later…nobody remembers who we were. Our own descendants don’t remember our names.
Well, you may object, that’s not true for everyone. A few people do become really successful and make lasting names for themselves, and I’ll just try harder to be one of those people. So, I’ll ask you this: who is Zachary Taylor? John Tyler? Chester Arthur? Franklin Pierce? Do you know?
Answer: They were all Presidents of the United States of America. As in, the most powerful, successful, high-name-recognition position you could possibly hope to attain in this country. And I’d bet most of you didn’t know who most of them were. So although a few people may make a mark and make it into the history books, in a few generations it’s still hard to find anyone who really cares about what they did.
This isn’t meant to discourage you, but rather to encourage you to refocus your efforts. If you really want to make a difference, you should focus on the eternal. Earthly fame is fleeting; any monument you could possibly build to your own name on this earth will eventually turn to dust. But anything you do to make Christ more famous, and to point people towards Him, will have an eternal impact. It will be remembered forever, and you’ll be around to appreciate it forever.
So as you consider what mark you will leave on this world, reach deep into eternity and make deposits that will be memorialized forever. It may cost you something in this life, but you’ll be investing in something that provides eternal returns.
This Memorial Day, I am grateful for those who have given their life so that I can live in freedom. And I am eternally grateful for The One who willingly gave His life so that I can live forever.
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)