“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. -Ecclesiastes 1:1-3
Today I returned home from San Diego. The temp when I left was around 68. The temp in Wichita?…wait for it…15. That’ll make your bull run.
The purpose of my trip was to spend some time with my mom in her garage to make room for our church’s trailer, which we will need when we move back to San Diego at the end of May. Each morning I got up before six and we started working hard on the garage. (Save one morning of surfing) I also managed to pack in many fruitful meetings with local ministry leaders in San Diego. If I wasn’t meeting or eating we were probably packing things tightly into the trash, taking things to AMVETS or dancing around trying to remove spider webs from our bodies. (I’m convinced there is still a spider in my clothes.) It was a great trip and my mom was a gracious host.
As we opened up myriad boxes (which had not been opened for 20-25 years) we began to find more and more things we just didn’t know what to do with. What do I do with my dad’s diplomas? There are many of them. How about the many drafts of his doctoral dissertation? Pictures of his students from 40 years ago? Books he had as a child? Essays, poems and doodles he has written? Published stories? Old Stamps? These things were once cherished. This went on for a long time and while we kept the most important things, my mom and I were struck with a thought: Everything we keep, will be thrown away one day. If she keeps things, I will probably have to throw them away one day. (We are hoping to buy a tiny house in San Diego) If I keep them, my children will have to wrestle with throwing them away one day. My treasures will be junk to someone.
What a sobering thought. The things I create, the music I’ve worked so hard on, my reputation gained will one day be only a shadow. And no one on this earth will know I existed. Significant thought, huh? As my mom grieved the things I not so gingerly tossed in the trash, we held another funeral for our own legacies. At least it was 71 degrees as we read our own obituaries.
This week I had the honor of attending a pastor’s roundtable hosted by Larry Osborne, who lamented the idea of a self centered “legacy.” He posited that no matter what you do for your church they will one day forget you. They could put your name on a building, but 15 years later no one would actually know your personality or your heart.
You. Are. A. Mist.
So what does that leave us with? Shall we despair? Should we eat and drink, for tomorrow we die? Surely not. Is that a way to live?
Our legacy is that we are participants in thousands of years worth of the Church. Our legacy has to be pouring into the next generation. Our legacy has to be teaching others the love of Christ and TEACHING THEM TO TEACH OTHERS! If we feed people the gospel but cannot teach them to share with others and so on, we have failed.
Church, may we press onward with vigor! Our legacy is the legacy of Christ! What joy that we are included in thousands of years of history! We only have today so make it count.