My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations (Psalm 102:11–12).
Some months ago I drove past a sign emblazoned with the words “Estate Sale,” adorned with arrows directing interested passersby to make a left turn and find their way to the proper address. Instead of turning down the street, however, my mind drifted toward the person whose belongings would be rifled through by complete strangers.
What was the person’s life like? Was he or she married? What about his widow or her widower? What about his or her children? How will they remember their loved one?
We all want to be remembered. We want to leave a legacy. We want to leave our mark on the world.
Where do these desires come from?
In his book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker notes that underneath all of our attempts to make a mark lies “the ache of cosmic specialness.” Though we may deny it, each of us lives with a deep-seated need to be known, recognized, and loved. We hope that someone, somewhere will find us significant.
Did you notice the words of the Psalmist cited above? He declares that although he will “wither away like the grass,” the LORD will be “remembered throughout all generations.” Why? Because “he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die” (vv. 19–20). While the writer’s words recall the exodus from Egypt, Luke records that during Christ’s transfiguration, he spoke with Moses and Elijah about his “exodus” (Lk. 9:31)—a reference to his future death, resurrection, and ascension, events that spotlight his saving work, triumph over death, and future reign at the Father’s right hand.
The King of kings laid down his life for those who by nature strive to usurp, rather than surrender to, his Lordship. Whereas the end result should have been eternal banishment from his presence, the radiant Son will usher his redeemed servants into their heavenly homeland.
When all that we have accomplished and acquired recedes from view, at long last we will learn that we could never achieve our way into significance, but receive it through faith-union with the Significant One—the Father’s beloved Son, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Matt. 3:17; Col. 2:3).
Typical of Adam’s descendants, our desires are often too weak, and our ambitions fueled by an inordinate sense of self-concern. We want to be remembered throughout all generations. But it is far more precious to be known, forgiven, loved, and cherished by the God of the universe.