“One generation passes away, and another generation comes . . .” (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT NOBODY’S GENERATION LASTS FOREVER. Your grandparents’ generation is gone. Your parents’ generation is going. And your generation will go sooner or later. One generation passes away, and another generation comes . . .
My mother, Charlene Roberts Henry, passed away some years ago, but my father, Leroy Parker Henry, died only recently. Since Dad passed away, my brother, Phil, and I have talked about what a different feeling it is to have both parents gone. As long as even one parent is alive, there can still be some sense in which you view yourself as the “younger” generation, but when both parents are gone, the truth is unavoidable: you are “next” on the brink.
It is good to be reminded of our mortality. None of us has an unlimited amount of time to do our work in this world, and whatever makes us better stewards of our time is a good thing.
But also, it is helpful to be reminded that there is a “chain” of generations going on in the world. Here we are right now, living in our own generation, but we are linked to all the generations that have ever been and to all the generations that will ever be. While we live, we are the connection that keeps the past and the future from being severed. We are called upon to be just one link, but in a chain, every link is critically important. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: what kind of link are we, a strong one or a weak one? Will we pass on the best of what has gone before and thereby help make the future better than it would be otherwise?
But let’s return to the idea of being “next.” If your parents are gone and you are “next,” is that a dreadful thought to you? I must say that to me it is exciting. I can only compare it to being on one of those “log flume” rides that you see at some amusement parks. On the way to the top, other “logs” are in front of you, but then you get to the top. No one is in front. You are next. There is nothing between you and . . . a breathtaking plunge! For the faithful Christian, what an exciting prospect to be next in line for eternity. The unknown part of it just makes it more exciting. I can’t wait!
“When our parents are living, we feel that they stand between us and death; when they go, we move to the edge of the unknown” (R. I. Fitzhenry).