Spiritual Life
Reasons to Believe
Religions & Sects
Church History
In the News
Faith & Reason Press Speaker's Forum Links Resources About Us

Yesterday, Today, and Forever

Donna Morley

The Past

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 Abraham Lincoln.Ē

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.

The Future

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 Chronicles 23:27).

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 completed.

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