Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Will I Leave Behind?

A little over a week ago the mother and grandmother of church friends passed away. On Thursday two teenagers were killed in a tragic accident on the way to school.

We arrived at the grandmother’s wake two hours after it began and stood in line for half an hour to greet the family. The funeral home was packed with friends and family to the point of standing room only – all there to honor the life of one they loved.

My dad, assistant principal of the high school the students attended, organized a memorial service the night of the accident. The church in which it was held was filled almost to seating capacity with devastated high school students, there to comfort each other and share stories about the lives of two close friends.

Why am I telling you this? Well, these two incidents, in two different ways, have led me to begin to reevaluate my life and the way in which I spend it.

Recently I have begun to ponder one burning question: What will I leave behind? Or, to look at it another way, how will the world, or even a life, be better because I was there?

Mrs. Levander was an active member of her community and her church. She had been for many, many years. Thus, at her passing, there were hundreds of people, old and young, whom she impacted for good.

Blake and Jeffery were known by their fellow students for extending themselves to others even when doing so was inconvenient. Thus, at their passing, there were scores of teens and even teachers who could say, “they were two of my closest friends.”

Everyone has heard that every day should be lived as if it were the last. For it certainly might be. How often do we fail to go beyond what is familiar and comfortable, telling ourselves, “maybe tomorrow?” When a life is marked by this attitude, what a terrible waste of a God-given gift!

Someone told me a few months ago that “the thought of a meaningless and un-impacting life scares [him] to the core. What on earth are we here for if not to effect change on those we know and love?”

I am beginning to understand what he meant. Especially after these recent events, the thought of living life primarily for myself without much thought to what difference I could be making in the world has become increasingly repulsive. If I were to die tomorrow, how many could say that I impacted them in a significant way that no other had or could? Not many, I’m afraid. I. however, could say this about dozens of individuals who in their own ways have given me a piece of themselves to carry the rest of my life. I thank God for these people. If you are one of the few that I know for sure are receiving this by email, you are several among many in this category. Thank you.

There is another, similar thought that has been in my mind, especially since the unexpected incident on Thursday. How many of the scores of people God has placed in my life know how much I truly appreciate their presence? Especially those who have invested something in me (my parents most of all), how many know just how much their care and involvement means to me? Again, not many. Not nearly enough.

So know that I have resolved that my life will not be wasted on myself and my own tiny (and I mean infinitesimal) comfort zone. If you’re reading this, Josh, I hope this is encouraging in light of our book discussion. When I leave this earth, today or in a hundred years, I want to have made a difference.

Thanks for reading.

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