Summary: This message explores the God given desire to have a deep and lasting impact. Inspired by "The Seven Longings of the Human Heart" by Mike Bickle.
("DeathBed" - ReliantK Music Video)
The saying goes something like there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. And near the end of the year, as a middle aged pastor, I find myself pondering both.
This past year I preached Victor’s funeral, and then a few weeks later traveled to Kansas City for my Grandmother’s Memorial Service. Over the next year Jamie will become a teenager, Debbie and I will cross the 40 year old threshold, and the odds grow greater that we will say goodbye to at least one other family member as age catches up with them.
And it can get me thinking about a simple, but profound question. One that there is space to answer there on your teaching outline this morning: What do I want written on my tombstone? Or in a larger scope and sense, how do I want to be remembered? Take a moment, reflect on it, and jot it down there on your outline. What would you want written on your tombstone?
(Solicit responses and Connect to a desire to be remember – to leave a deep and lasting impact on the world and people around us.)
You see, here is a challenge I face.
As each day and week goes by doing. . .
- Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan’s Campus in Hamburg
- Driving my bus with Step-by-Step
- Giving hours to coaching and officiating Upward basketball
- Speaking to the University of South Carolina Basketball Team, or Beaumont FCA
- Taking a missions trip to Haiti
- Watching pastor friends move on to other churches in other states
- Even driving home from church on Sundays
I am constantly nagged by, and sometimes even haunted by the question– Did I make any difference? Did any of those efforts, those hours of investment and energy, that piece of my life that was poured into someone else’s life. Did it really make any difference?
(Read Ecclesiastes 1:2 through 11)
Does all the effort make any difference? And will anyone even remember what I did, how I lived my life, or who I was when I pass from my deathbed (re-read verse 11)?
- Reflection on teen year suicide attempts & reaching the Naval Academy
(Read Ecclesiastes 1:16-18)
I’m guessing I’m not alone. Maybe some of you are young enough that it merely gets a passing reflection, but I dare say as I venture through the congregation, and increase the years spent here on earth, the question gets asked more seriously, and more intensely: Will anyone even remember me? Because I believe that God has wired us with a longing to make a deep, significant, lasting impact.
Just listen to the commission that Jesus placed on the life of every believer, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but that is no small, piddly little task. Make disciples. Of ALL nations. Baptize them. That’s pretty heady stuff. That is eternal, lasting work. Something to be remembered for.
(Read Ecclesiastes 2:9-11)
Pastor Mike Bickle puts it this way, “We play a small but significant role in a very large drama, in a great conflict with eternal consequences.”
Think of the phrases in that statement (expound on each one) –
- We play a small: 300 million people in U.S., 21 million Evangelicals, me.
- But significant role
- A very large drama
- A great conflict
- With eternal consequences
God has placed within us a capacity, an ability, even a desire and longing to make a significant, lasting, deep impact on the world around us. A longing, that when sought to be fulfilled through the world’s economy and priorities leaves us echoing the words of Ecclesiastes (read 6:7-9).
San Francisco artist David Best is known for building these intricate monuments from delicately cut sheets of plywood. They often reach 50 feet tall, and feature turrets, spindles and railings. He builds them in memory of people who have passed away.
And then he leaves a stack of magic markers in the structures and encourages people to write messages about their deceased love ones. Then after a period of time, they will burn down the structures.
The messages that people leave are mixed with profound reflections and pain. One message left on one structure was scrawled in green letters eight inches tall, and it read, “Dad, what did your life mean?”
Tragically, a child had reflected on his parent’s life. And was left with the mulling and spirit of resignation that said, “Dad, I watched you closely and cannot determine the impact you had. It would appear that your life meant. . .nothing.”
So what do we want on our tombstones? Or maybe the more important question, what are we doing about it? You see, the older I get, the more I realize that the issue for me is not making New Years resolutions. I’m good at that. The issue is making changes in my life that will enable me to fulfill those resolutions.