“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36).
MOST OF US WANT TO MAKE SOME CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD WHILE WE LIVE HERE. Rather than just be takers, we would like to be givers. But some people want more than that: they want to make a mark that will be remembered long after they’re gone. They’re appalled by the thought of vanishing without a trace, and even while they live, they fear being passed up and written off as a “has been.” But is that how we should look at this life?
I must tell you frankly, there is a sense in which “John Doe” funerals are profoundly sad to me, those graveside services in which the person who died had no friends or family and nobody came to the funeral. Some people really do pass through this life and vanish without a trace, and unless you’re a funeral director, you might be surprised to hear how often that happens.
But the John Does of the world have something to teach us, something that is desperately important to understand about “life under the sun.” Our work in this world is the work of just one link in the chain, no more. The people we are to serve are those we are connected to while we live. And when the time comes for us to leave this world, that will be the time for us to be forgotten and somebody else to take our place. “One generation passes away, and another generation comes . . . There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after” (Ecclesiastes 1:4,11).
In this world, we are meant to be replaced. Even as great a man as David was, no greater thing could be said of him than this: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.” In the chain of generations, his work was that of just one link.
But if our work is that of one link, we ought to want it to be the best link possible. Having done our part, we will be replaced (and forgotten by those who replace us), but mighty consequences hinge on whether we do our part well — while we still live.
“Life is not a ‘brief candle.’ It is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations” (George Bernard Shaw).