“I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”
“It’s Not Dark Yet”
Time Out of Mind (1997)
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
I am taking a break from my book manuscript to write on a different subject for a moment. Dylan has been my companion during late nights of pouring over the manuscript and in the minivan while I have been playing Mr. Mom. (Jenni “has been to London” and she is still there. She returns home on Tuesday.) Dylan’s Time Out of Mind (1997) has put me in a reflective mood. I have been thinking about our mortality…well actually, my own mortality.
I attended two funerals in the last month. I preached one and just attended the other. One was a mournful tragedy; the other was a celebratory homecoming. One marked the passing of a life too young to die, the other marked the end of a long life. One death was a teenager, the other a grandmother. Still both funerals caused me to the about humanity and mortality.
I realize that my days in this life are numbered. My hope is to live a long life–to live well into my eighties, writing books, teaching, traveling, and watching my children, my children’s children, and even my children’s children’s children grow up. (That sounds like a lot of children!) I am not morbidly fixating on death. I will life here and die here…against my will.
My hope is in Jesus, not to take me to heaven when I die, but to return to earth and finish his new creation project. My hope is in the resurrection. As Jesus was resurrection, I expect to receive a new body and live for eternity in God’s new creation..the place where heaven and earth meet.
But for today…it is not dark yet, but it is getting there…
The questions I have been asking myself is what kind of legacy do I want to leave? The Apostle Paul said that his crown, his reward, his legacy was his friends and his (church) family.
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians 4:1 NIV)
Crowns made of dried celery leaves were worn by the champion of athletic competition in Roman and Greek culture. It was the reward for athletes and it stood as their legacy. Paul says “my crown and my joy are you my friends.”
What kind of crown am I striving for?
What kind of impact do I want to make in my 80 years?
Is it “success” in the ministry? Success is such a dirty word. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that I ever entered into the ministry to be a success.
Is it material wealth and riches? I want to live an inheritance for my children and those who follow, but life simply does not consist in an abundance of positions. And Christians who make material wealth the goal of the Christian life miss the mark.
Conquering some kind game or sporting event? Nothing wrong with games, hobbies, and sports. I am taking my boys on a day hike on the Wolfden loop on the Pine Mountain Trail. My third excursion in four months. But even if I conquer the athletic world, which I won’t, what I have gained…
Mastering knowledge in a certain subject? I know a little bit about the Bible and church history. And I am a master of Seinfeld trivia. Go ahead…try to stump me. Ask me anything about the 90s sitcom, Seinfeld. I have all 180 episodes on DVD. But is that all I will be remembered for? How pathetic…
What kind of legacy will I leave?
It’s not dark yet, but it is getting there…
Maybe this is why I am pouring so much time into writing.
Ben Franklin said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
I hope through my writing, people will see the grandeur and goodness of the triune God. I hope they see that investing in his kingdom is the only thing that will last. Meaning in life presently and the legacy we life after this life only makes sense in a right relationship between creation and Creator…between man and God.
I do not have enough faith to be an atheist.