In the first year of married life I purchased a lifetime supply of paperclips—ten boxes with 100 paperclips each. What a deal that was!
I’ve had eight addresses scattered across four states in thirty-three years, and my paperclip collection has journeyed with me. I checked my inventory, and I have seven unopened boxes. Either I accelerate my paperclip usage or I will be leaving the stash behind for someone to find. I know what that person will think, too. “John was always planning and preparing, a truly organized guy! Now what do we do with 700 paperclips?”
Here’s a sobering thought—we’re all simply passing through, and not one of us is a permanent resident. Seems many have forgotten that truth as we jostle for wealth and possessions. Maybe it’s time for an examination where we ponder the tough questions, “What will I leave behind? How will people remember me?”
My brother, Jeff, started this lovely tree from a seedling and cared for it as a patio Bonsai for years. As his health declined he asked me to take the tree to my garden and set it free. I was honored.
This Japanese maple has become the centerpiece of our water garden. For several years I moved it between pots until the tree grew too big to handle. Shawn picked a spot, and we planted this beauty. The color grows in intensity each autumn, and this year the tree produced those tiny maple tree helicopters we all enjoyed as children. I think the maple is happy in its position supervising the goldfish, frogs and dragon flies.
The sun streaming through the clouds electrified the leaves, and my first action was to share the view with Shawn. Then my thoughts turned to Jeff. I miss him even though I know he is in a better place. He left the tree behind, knowing how much we would enjoy it.
Jeff possessed a consuming love for nature as a hunter, gardener, painter, photographer, and woodcarver. He displayed a curiosity to explore and could see the finest detail in God’s creation. Jeff never tired of wandering the woods to add to his collection of mental images.
Seasons come and go. Time elapses. Life passes. On the trek, we’re leaving impressions in our wake. I’m challenged as I read Paul’s words written from his prison cell as he awaited execution by the Romans. Paul wrote:
…the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…
II Timothy 4:6-7 NASB Selected
Paul’s life work still affects us today. Study his missionary journeys and read his letters if you are unfamiliar with his contributions to Christianity.
Another wise man, Joshua, reached the end of his leadership assignment. In his farewell speech he shared the key to his success and challenged his followers to join him.
“…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15 NASB Selected
Are you ready to ponder some tough questions?
What will I leave behind? How will people remember me?