When you’re gone, how will you be remembered?
Right before summer break the yearbooks came in. A hardcover pictorial of the 2018-19 school year. Students busily flipped pages, pointing, laughing, and remembering.
Yearbooks are all about remembering. They capture on paper a season of life. I have a stack of yearbooks. From elementary school, high school, and college. I even have some from my parents’ high school days. It’s interesting, if not a bit strange, to see images of your Mom and Dad as teenagers.
Flipping through the pages of a yearbook raises two questions:
How do I remember others?
How do others remember me?
The experience is, at best, bittersweet. We smile at our good moments. We wince at our bad and embarrassing ones. And while we wish we could go back and get a “do over” on the bad and embarrassing, we can’t. We’re left with the reality that it is what it is.
What’s done is done. It’s in the book.
The question isn’t, “Will we be remembered?”
We will be.
The question is, “How will we be remembered?”
The Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Chronicles aren’t places most of us spend a lot of time. It’s a history of Israel and Judah. You could say it’s a generational yearbook of sorts. Who begat whom, records of battles fought, when kings attained the throne and whether they were good or bad. In 2 Chronicles 21 we read about a king named Jehoram.
Jehoram came from a pretty good family. He had a God-fearing Dad, King Jehoshaphat who, though not perfect, served 25 years as a mostly God-following leader. Because Jehoram was the oldest of his sons, he appointed him to be king upon his death.
Upon assuming the throne, Jehoram’s decisions let everyone know he wasn’t anything like his Dad. He had all his brothers murdered, married a pagan she-devil, incited unnecessary battles, and encouraged national worship of gods who spelled their name with a small “g”.
Because none of us can play fast and loose with God’s rules without consequence, Jehoram experienced God’s judgment. He suffered the loss of his family and a two-year (very) painful disease that eventually killed him.
In describing his death, 2 Chronicles 21:20 is the verse that grabs me by the shirt and slams me up against the wall.
“…And he (Jehoram) departed with no one’s regret.”
Imagine. No one regrets your departure.
You’re gone. And everyone’s glad you’re gone.
Setting aside for a moment the permanent departure of death, let’s consider…
When you leave your job to take a position elsewhere, are you remembered because your heart, humor, and hard work are conspicuously absent? Or are you remembered because your absence means the flow chart flows more smoothly and meetings go easy breezy now that your chair is empty?
When you move to another state and your neighbors see the “For Sale” sign in front of your house, do they sigh and cry because their lives were made richer by your presence? Or do they smile and skip down the sidewalk because your gruff and grumpy “get off my lawn!” is gloriously gone?
Alistair Begg said, “Live your life so as to be remembered. But to be remembered for the right reasons.”
The question isn’t, “Will I be remembered?”
You will be.
The question is, “How will I be remembered?”
The best way to be remembered for the right reasons is to live our lives for God and for others. When we’re all about doing good in every way at every turn to everyone we meet, our legacy will take care of itself.
Todd A. Thompson – One Eye Out
What a great message and very timely for me
I will be out of high school 50 years in 2020. Wow has the time flown!!
I was recently looking my 1970 yearbook and all my friends. So many have already passed away! And yes it triggers memories of those days. As I am growing older I am thinking even more of “How will I be remembered?”
Thank you for writing from
You are a blessing to me!!!
I value your friendship
Thanks, Jerry. You are a treasured friend. You are remembered kindly by SO many people! – tat
You know that I rate your writing up with Max Lucado. You take the simple/complex things of life and use a God-lens to examine them. Thank you.