We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
1 Chronicles 29:15
Relate: You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, and sixteen great-great-grandparents. Quick question: how many of your great-great-grandparents can you name? Without looking it up, do you know half? Can you name even one? Why not? This isn’t really ancient history. It is not an unrealistic expectation. After all, around 80-100 years back they were the same age as you are right now. So can you name them? What were their jobs? Where did they live? How many siblings did they have? What were their favorite foods? If you can even answer any of these questions about even one of your great-great-grandparents then you are doing much better than I am and almost everyone else who is reading this.
Now, let us flip it in the other direction. In about 80-100 years, your great-great-grandchildren will be about the same age as you are right now. Will your descendants know where you worked or lived? Will they know your favorite foods or favorite TV shows? Will they know how you voted and why? Will they even know your name? More importantly, will they even care? I am almost certain that for nearly every single one of us, the answer to all these questions is “no.” It is humbling, isn’t it?
React: Just last night I was talking with an Armenian gentleman after church here in Batumi Georgia. I was talking about how I will be returning to Gaziantep, Turkey in a few weeks. He mentioned how at one time there was a large Armenian population in Antep. This is true. In the buildings and place names of many parts of Antep, the Christian Armenian heritage of the city can still be seen. But, not in the population. This brought us around to talking about some facts of history that my adopted home of Turkey still refuses to acknowledge ever happened.
It also brought us around to an interesting piece of history one can still see in Gaziantep today. The oldest hospital in the city is American Hastanesi. It was created by American missionaries. In this hospital, there is a small garden where about fifteen to twenty gravestones have been collected. These are all memorials to the lives and love many past missionaries invested into this city and region. Here are a few…
These people are long gone. Almost all of their converts were killed or exiled by the end of World War 1. In 1910 more than 40% of the city was Christian. By the time of the next census and right up to the present day, that ratio is now less than 1%. David’s statement in Chronicles seems to have been true, “Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” But these courageous men and women left an eternal impact that still resonates here on earth to this day. They chose to invest their time and lives into something that will live on long after they are gone. Can we say the same?
I long to invest in the eternal. In my heart this is true, but all too often I find myself getting distracted by stupid pointless things. In this world of Netflix, the internet, and social media, it is so easy to waste so much time on pointless nothings. It is too easy to punch the timecard of a meaningless job day after day while accomplishing nothing of eternal value. Help me to focus on the things that will matter. Help me to invest in the things that will last. Give me eyes that will be quick to find ways I can make an eternal difference and that will be slow to turn away towards the worthless things that are constantly vying for my attention. My days on earth are like a passing shadow. They are here now but quickly gone. Don’t let me waste them.
The River Walk is a devotional created by Two Rivers Church. To visit or to watch a message online, please click here.
To read previous years devotionals taken from July 19th please click below: