Summary: What we do for God and others outlives us.
Title: How to Outlive Your Life
Text: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Thesis: What we do for God outlives us.
You can see the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Logan Street in downtown Denver. It is a beautiful French Gothic structure. The front doors are brass. Its vaulted ceiling is 68 feet high and the twin towers reach skyward 210 feet. Most notable about the cathedral are the 75 beautifully crafted stained glass windows… the most stained glass windows of any cathedral in the United States. (The windows were imported from Germany at the outrageous price of $34,000.) The cathedral was begun in 1902, the cornerstone set in 1906 and the spires capped in 1911. The stonework includes limestone from Indiana, Granite from Gunnison, CO and marble imported from Italy. The church serves a large congregation as well as the needs of the community. One of their most noteworthy ministries is feeding the homeless… approximately 60,000 lunches a year. (The total cost of construction was $500,000 in the early 1900’s)
While I am impressed when I pass by the Basilica I am more impressed by the Cathedral of St. Paul which sits on Summit Hill and overlooks the city of St. Paul, MN. It is a massive structure that is 306 feet tall and is capped with a 120 in diameter dome covered with copper.
But even the Cathedral of St. Paul, Minnesota is dwarfed by many of the cathedrals in Europe… the most massive of which is the Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) in Barcelona, Spain. Ground breaking for this Sacred Family was in 1882 and construction is expected to be completed by 2026… Imagine a single construction project taking nearly 150 years to complete. Despite the fact that European cathedrals typically took 100 years to complete, over 400 cathedrals were built in one 500 year period.
As I read about the construction of those cathedrals I was stunned by the realization that in some cases, four generations of craftsmen likely worked to complete the construction of one of those cathedrals.
Thinking of Sacred Family of Barcelona, Spain alone… stone masons began stonework in 1882. For the last 130 years stone masons have continued their craft. Sons picked up where their fathers left off, grandsons began to lay stones where their grandfathers had begun. Great grandsons are laying stones today on the same project their great grandfathers began in 1882. And the project and the process will continue until the year 2026.
Generations of stone masons who began and worked on projects knew they would never see the completion of what they had begun. Every stone they laid in its place was for the benefit and blessing of generations yet unborn.
That is what Moses knew as well. He would spend his life leading people to the edge of the Promised Land but he would never get to live there. Moses lived and died having hope for the future of others.
I. Have hope for the future of others.
The Lord said, “This is the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” Deuteronomy 34:1-4
Last week we talked about one of the ways Moses outlived his life was because he lived his life with hope for the future of other people. And we concluded that one way to outlive ourselves is to: Live in a way that demonstrates we want others to be blessed in the future by the way we live in the present… remembering that what we do for God and others outlives us.
Another thing we can learn from Moses is that he lived so well that when he died people were saddened by his death.
II. Live life so that people will be saddened by your death but gladdened by your hope.
The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. Deuteronomy 34:5-8
Probably 15 or 16 years ago Carl Freeman asked me to take him for a drive. Carl was elderly and wanted to show me some of, what he called, “places,” in his life. It was toward the end of winter… a cold and rainy day. I drove out to his farm and we set off. He directed me up one gravel road and down another. He showed me an abandoned farmstead back in a field where he lived as a boy. He showed me where the country school he attended once stood. He showed me the first farm he and Evelyn had lived when they were first married. I was driving slowly and enjoying his reminiscing when at the top of a hill he said, “Stop right here.” I did and then he reached over and placed a gnarled old hand on my knee and said, “I know how you feel. This is where my two month old son was killed when he was a baby.” He told me the story of how he and Evelyn were on their way home. Evelyn was holding the baby in her arms and as they topped the hill they were hit head-on by another car. They were all seriously injured and the baby was killed. And then he said, “I think about little David every day.”