Yesterday, Today, and Forever
Iíll never forget the time when my grandfather, who was born at the end of the
Victorian age (1895), said to me, ďI shook the hand that shook the hand of
I immediately grabbed my grandfatherís hand and began shaking it, saying, ďI
shook the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln!Ē
Though that was only a handshake, I felt distantly connected to Americaís great
president. That handshake in a small way showed me how we are linked to events
of the past.
God has created each life with a specific purpose, and if we allow Him to fulfill it
through us, He will continue to use us long after we are gone. Since the beginning,
events have been connected in an endless chain, one thing influencing another,
going on in unbroken succession until the Lordís return. You and I are a part of this
chain, along with the people of the past and those yet to come.
I became very aware of this connection years ago when I shared my faith a
number of times with an elderly woman named Francine. In due time she accepted
Christ, but my sharing wasnít the first time she had heard the message of
salvation. She remembers hearing the gospel message as a young woman many
times from a radio preacher. She didnít respond when she was in her twenties, but
many decades later in her eighties she came to Christ.
In a sense I was a partner across the better part of a century with a preacher I will
never meet in this life. Though Iím sure he is long gone, his efforts in the early
twentieth century are still bearing fruit. See how the chain links, reaching back to
the past and forward to the future? While my own efforts depend on those who
went before me, my ministry also reaches into the future. So like the preacher, Iím
sure my life will affect people long after I am goneóand so will yours. Our
significance can reach much further than any of us realize.
In his old age, King David realized that if the causes he had worked and fought for
were to be secure, he would have to make provision for the future. So he chose
his son Solomon as king (1 Chronicles 23:1). By giving Solomon his main
possessionóthe throneóDavidís influence would continue on in the Lordís work.
Following Davidís example, we should strive to keep alive the causes we have
worked for. While the legacy of our words and our example are built over years,
what becomes of any earthly possessions we have accumulated is determined at a
single point in time.
Many Christians have used their assets to build churches, hospitals, and schools
and to establish missions abroad. No matter how little is left, our assets can be of
some service, making an impact after we are gone. Like any other area of
stewardship, making a will should be approached with thoughtfulness and prayer in
order to ensure that we glorify God as much as possible with the possessions He
has entrusted to us.
Thereís more we can do to be sure our legacy reaches forward into the future.
After David gave the throne to Solomon, he then gave ďhis last wordsĒ (1
Since I have no idea whether I shall live as long as David or die as soon as
tomorrow, my thoughts and words are continually written down in bound record
books for my children. It is my hope that by sharing my love for them, my love for
the Lord, and the importance of living solely for Him, I will be imparting to them my
mind and spirit. I shall live on in their lives and in their childrenís lives long after my
physical presence is gone.
You may think, Iím not a writer, or What if I donít feel I have anything to share?
Can I still pass on a spiritual legacy? Absolutely! You and I can leave a heritage to
the extent that we live a life worth following. We also influence the future by
praying for the spiritual welfare of generations yet to be born. In a broad sense we
influence the future whenever we use our spiritual gifts, touch someoneís life by
caring, or take time to disciple someone younger in the faith. What an honor to
have such an influence!
Of course between the past and future is the ever-present now. What should we
be especially alert to?
Created for Such a Time as This
One of the most amazing examples of seizing opportunity is found in the book of
Esther. Esther had just gotten the alarming news from her cousin Mordecai that all
Jews were to be annihilated (3:12-13). Esther desperately wanted to bring the
matter up with her husband, the king, but she knew she would be risking her life to
approach him without his invitation (4:11).
While Esther hesitated, Mordecai told her point-blank that she was at risk
regardless of whether or not she approached the king (4:13). He then made a
profound statement that still speaks to us: ďAnd who knows whether you have not
attained royalty for such a time as this?Ē (4:14). Those strengthening words
motivated Esther, and her actions spared the Jews.
Just like Esther, our place and time in history are no accident. God has appointed
us to be a part of His plan. And in that outworking, God is not a mere spectator.
He was more than an observer when He used Moses (Exodus 4:15). He was more
than a bystander when the apostles were chosen (Luke 6:12-13). He was more
than an onlooker when you were formed (Psalm 139:13). And He is more than a
passerby as you live your life (Psalm 139:1-3).
In Godís plan He has caused all events to come about so that you could be used in
a highly significant way. Why did He give you certain abilities, gifts, and burdens?
Because you were born for such a time as this.
Questioning Our Purpose
It shouldnít surprise us, even as Christians, if our lives sometimes seem insignificant
despite our best efforts. Look at Christ. The moment He died, the apostles must
have thought of Him as something of a failure. He was supposed to be their
Messiah, and there He was in the grave. They may well have wondered, What was
the purpose of Christís life? Wasnít He supposed to save us? At that time they
didnít fully grasp Godís plan nor how Christís life was going to be continued and
From our limited perspective, one passing life can seem so insignificant. Our
comfort is this: Though our life is but a vapor, it is not lived in vain. We are living
out our purpose if we have committed our lives to Christ, if we pursue His kingdom
and righteousness, if we live in obedience to His will, are devoted to His glory, and if
we are concerned about the eternal well-being of the lost. Such a life has an
excellence that true wisdom does not despise.
Just think: Through a chain of events connecting the past, the present, and the
future, you are a part of historyónot just ordinary history, but His-story. It is a
story that is part of Godís great plan, one that reveals the likeness of Jesus. A
story that recognizes that the smallest act done for Christ is not lost. A story that
portrays the child of God as spiritual royalty. That royalty extends a hand to the
world and the soul to Godóproducing a ripple effect felt not only in this age and in
generations to come but also forever.
Neither you nor I could ask for more significance than the valu