“In the end, we’ll all become stories…”

I found this while I was awake during my usual middle of the night non-sleeping period. I liked and shared it, and didn’t think much else about it at the time. When I finally woke up completely and got a little coffee on board it came back to visit once again. Thus I was prompted to write about it.

It’s interesting how profound truths can be found in the simplest thoughts. You can see it here. When our life is at its end, all that’s left is our story. It’s the one part of ourselves which will remain in this life after we’re gone. It’s the real legacy we leave our children, grandchildren and generations beyond them. So let me ask you this: how’s your story doing? Is it a good one, or more of a cautionary tale?

As we consider our own story, we seek to understand its meaning/purpose and significance. We want to know why things happen to us, and whether our story will be worth telling for years to come. We desire to know both, although we rarely have a chance to understand either. Sometimes the experiences of our lives seem to have one reason or purpose, but as we progress through life we learn there may be more than what we see initially.

Those of you who have read my blog posts know I have prostate cancer which has been successfully treated twice (so far). I don’t want that experience to go to waste; it’s part of my story I’ve shared in the hope it might encourage and educate some who are experiencing the same thing. It’s also given me the opportunity to share the One who is my source of strength and hope with those who might need it. God gave me that opportunity with the expectation I wouldn’t waste it. It’s what I understood as the meaning.

But meaning changes as we live our life, and I now see a new purpose in what I’ve experienced. My wife has just been diagnosed with uterine cancer. Thankfully, the doctor thinks it is contained and she has a good chance of a full cure. But it makes me understand my experience in a different light. She will have to travel a path I know only too well. It is my privilege to hold her hand and walk that path with her as a guide, of sorts. My experience prepared me for this moment, and new meaning has been added because of new circumstances.

We never know precisely how many lives we touch and in what ways. But be certain that we do touch lives. And they will remember us; maybe not specifically, but they’ll remember either the kindnesses or the hurts. The question we need to ask ourselves: what do we want to leave behind? That is significance, and it’s something we all want for ourselves. We want to be remembered. We want to be significant. No one, if they’re being honest with themselves, wishes to be forgotten and swept into the dustbin of history.

The problem is we mistake fame for significance. It’s why we maintain an almost worshipful admiration for celebrities, athletes, and other people who may be famous for being famous. We diminish our own significance in comparison. The world tells us only those who are famous hold any significance, and their lives and opinions the only ones that matter. What a shame we fall prey to the lie contained within that line of thinking. Every life has the capacity for significance because we are all created in the image of God, and there is nothing more significant than that.

I think of the one known as Mother Theresa. She was the very antithesis of the world’s definition of significance. One Catholic nun, laboring among the poor in the slums of India. And yet, she held the ear of Popes and world leaders. Because she understood what makes a life significant. When we choose to surrender ourselves in complete obedience to Jesus Christ and truly become his disciple, we reflect the One who lived the most significant life to ever exist on this earth. We no longer are held captive by things the world counts as important, but we seek things which have eternal significance.

I have done a little research into my family history, in particular my maternal grandfather’s ancestors. I know who they are but really know very little about their lives other than every one of them, from my great-great-great grandfather down to my grandfather, four generations, all chose to preach the gospel at some point in their lives. It became the point of significance in each of their lives, the thing for which they are best remembered (at least by me). Of course I best remember my grandfather, and much more than just this one facet of his life. But his faith defined all the other parts of his life, and is the thing most of the hundreds of people whose lives he touched would remember.

I’ve rambled long enough; let me bring this to a close. A hundred years from now, the only thing anyone will remember about us is our story. For some, even that may be forgotten. How we choose to live our lives will be our story. Please consider making yours worth being remembered for generations. Build it on eternal significance, on the One who died to save us from our sins and hopelessness. Let your story speak of faith in Christ, love for God, family and all of those lives that are touched by yours on a daily basis. If my great-grandchildren know nothing about Rita and I except that we loved each other deeply and faithfully sought to serve God, our lives will have been significant. And that will make it a great story.