This morning I awoke to celebrate my 35th birthday. I know that for many of you that is still quite young and that you likely believe that someone as young as I has much to learn in this world. (And you are probably right). For others, 35 is considered old. I remember when my parents turned 35 thinking that was an entire lifetime away. I thought that attaining to that age would take for ever. I thought that there was no way I could accomplish all that my father had in his lifetime. And in many ways I was wrong. It is not about the years you have lived, but how you lived those years.
It hit me this week that I lived longer than my Lord and Savior. He lived for about 33 years. (While we do not know his exact age, we know that he started his ministry at approximately 30 years of age (Luke 3:23) and that he celebrated 3 Passovers during his ministry. And yet, in his short life he managed to impact not just one generation, but 2000 years worth of generations, and I imagine that if this world keeps on turning he will impact another 2000 years worth of generations. The world was turned upside down as a result of his preaching. People went from being hatemongers to lovers of man. People went from being self serving to humble servant. People went from self indulgent to sober minded. All of this because of one manís self less act in allowing himself to die a cruel death upon a cross. And the really scary thing is that it did not take him 33 years to accomplish all of that. He changed the world after 3 years of service. 3 short years of preaching. 3 short years of teaching. 3 short years of leading by example.
And then it hit me again. In just 2 months I will have been here for 4 years. While I understand that I am not Christ, while I understand that I am not the Son of God, while I understand that I do not have His wisdom, his insight, and his power I do have something he doesnít have. More time. I have had more time to make a difference in the lives of others than my Lord and Savior had. And that leads me to ask myself, what mark have I left? Are others better off because of the work that I have done? Have I left the Lordís church in better shape as a result of my effortís to preach, teach, and serve the saints? Or have I left things relatively unchanged?
I can look back at times in my life and know for certain that I left things unchanged. I had 4 years of high school to impact the lives of my fellow classmates. While I realize that I was hardly a great person, I somehow received the reputation as a fighter. (Although I had one fight in high school, I was rumored to have beaten up more than 2 dozen people by the time I graduated). I ran into people from high school through the years that was surprised to learn that I would be a preacher. (While I would understand that if it were based upon my quiet demeanor, sadly it wasnít). I wasted 4 years of my life. Yes, I can argue that I was young. But I was also a Christian!
The next four years were spent in college where I began to shape the faith that led me to where I am today. While I didnít have the profound impact upon others that Christ did, others began to have that impact upon me. I changed and began to understand what it means to walk worthy of the vocation by which I was called. In the process I met my future wife and clearly left a mark upon her as she asked me to marry her!
4 years later I was married, a father of 1, 1 on the way and getting ready to leave the 1st church I had ever preached for. In total 7 souls were added to the Lordís church. Even after I left much work was being done to sow the seed in the kingdom. The mark I left was indeed a good one.
So here I am, another year older and again contemplating what kind of mark I will leave behind. I can tell you this, leaving a positive mark is not something that will accidentally happen. It must be purposed. As we have studied the journeys of Paul we did not see a person who stumbled his way through Europe. He made a concerted effort to be something more than a Sunday morning attender and as a result he too has had an impact upon 2000 years worth of generations.
I know what I want my mark to be. What about you? After you leave this church, after you leave this world what will others say about you? Will you be just another face in the crowd or will you leave the Lordís church in better shape than when you found it? -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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What Mark Are You Leaving?
Volume 4 Issue 42