Many people spend a major portion of their life seeking notoriety. We want to be remembered, thought about, admired, and emulated. This includes a lust to be admired and remembered after death. Tragically, such endeavors are futile. The only source of post mortem meaning is God’s love, and that only for those who believe the gospel and turn from sin. David’s words in Psalm 103 make this point.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.Verses 14-17
I have a two-acre field of Idaho pasture grass in front of my house. Last Spring was unusually wet and the grass grew about three feet high. If a blade of grass died would I have noticed it? Would anyone notice or remember it? It’s a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious.
In the same way, no one will remember Bill Farley 100 years from now except maybe a great grand child with a vague memory of me from their youth. Like the blade sea of grass when the “wind” of death “passes over it” my place in the field will not be remembered for long.
If this is true, and it is, we should be looking for significance elsewhere, and this Psalm tells us where to look. The second verse answers this pessimism with “but!” What a wonderful word. There is a solution to the meaninglessness of existence. “The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.” What wonderful news. Here is the solution to the search for meaning and significance. God loves me. God is with me. I am his child, a member of his family. My relationship with God gives me “everlasting” significance.
David Brainerd is a good example. Brainerd experienced more notoriety after death than most. He was a successful missionary to the Native Americans in the 1740s. After he contracted tuberculosis he moved to Northampton, MA where Jonathan Edwards’ daughter, Jerusha, nursed him. Her efforts proved futile, and Brainerd died at age 28.
However, Edwards read Brainerd’s diary and was so impressed that he edited and published it. The Diary of David Brainerd became an instant publishing success. Most people in 1850 knew Brainerd’s name. But even Brainerd has been forgotten today. Judy and I were in Northampton a few years ago and tracked down his grave. It was just a plaque in the ground about 24 X 12 inches covered with leaves, dirt, and debris. No one was tending it. The wind had passed over Brainerd and his place was “remembered no more.”
But here is the important point. I don’t think Brainerd cares. He is enjoying the steadfast love of God which is from everlasting to everlasting. Now his identity and significance are completely realized in the fact that he is God’s beloved son. Brainerd looked for significance in the right place.
What About Us?
Where are you looking for significance? We all need significance. We all want significance. It is not wrong to pursue it. But don’t waste your life pursuing it in the wrong place. Place all your hope in the father’s love for you and the life of the world come.
Those who seek significance in this world alone, will be greatly disappointed.