We want to leave a mark.
We want to make a difference.
We want to be remembered long after we die.
Yet far too often, our efforts are shortsighted. We focus on this world instead of the next. We measure success by wealth, notoriety, and living the American dream.
The bigger the bank account, the greater the legacy, we naively assume. The more perfect our family appears, the better we’ve done as parents.
But what looks impressive and important on earth often doesn’t carry over into heaven. Because up in heaven, there are no autograph lines. There are no awards for perfect families, no trust funds for the next generation, no monuments, empires, or family dynasties.
As the country song says, you’ve a never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch. When we die, we can’t take our stuff with us. Regardless of what we accumulate on earth, or how powerful we become, we all leave this world the same way we enter it – naked and alone.
There’s only one thing that can follow us into heaven, and that’s people. So if we really crave a life of meaning, the place to start is with relationships.
Several years ago, my idea of a meaningful life was transformed by the book 90 Minutes in Heaven. The book is about a Baptist pastor named Don Piper who died in a terrible car crash, was declared dead by paramedics, and came back to life after spending an hour in a half in heaven.
I was skeptical of this book until I started reading it. Then I got hooked. Reading about Piper’s experience got me so excited about the afterlife. It lessened my fear of death and made me rethink how I live.
My favorite chapter is where Piper describes the “celestial welcoming committee” gathered outside heaven’s gate to welcome him. He says he’d never felt so loved, so happy, and so at peace. Immediately upon his arrival, Piper was surrounded by people who’d died in his lifetime, people he had loved and who loved him back.
They were all ages and from different stages of life – everyone from his great-grandfather to a friend who died young – and as he gazed at their radiant faces, an important realization struck him.
Each person in his welcoming committee had contributed to his Christian walk or encouraged his growth as a believer. Each one had affected him positively. He knew, without being told, that because of their influence in his life, he was able to join them in heaven.
When I finished 90 Minutes in Heaven, I started thinking about who will be on my welcoming committee when I die. More importantly, I wondered who I will be waiting for on the other side. Whose arrival into heaven will I get to celebrate as they prepare to meet their Creator?
Obviously, I hope to be present for my family and friends. I hope I’m the first face my children and husband see. But I also hope to be there for people beyond my innermost circle. Just as my welcoming committee will include people who appeared in my life only for a brief time – yet made a deep impact – I hope to do that for others.
And this leads to my point, the secret to a meaningful life. I believe the secret is to live each day loving and treating others in a way that earns us a place in their celestial welcoming committee. Because if we live correctly, we’ll be there for a lot people. We’ll play either a small role or a big role in helping loved ones, acquaintances, and possibly strangers draw closer to the Lord by the character of our life.
The best way to leave a mark on this world is to think about the next world. And as we map out New Year’s resolutions, planning for the next 12 months, let’s remember how our best work on earth can’t always be measured tangibly. Because building God’s kingdom comes with mysteries and unknowns. There are revelations still to come. Only in heaven will we hear the full story of how our life impacted others. Only in heaven will we discover exactly how we made a difference.
Regardless of our job, our status, or our circumstances, we’re all capable of lighting up our corner of the universe. We’ve all been given gifts to glorify and serve God. And whether we influence someone through direct encouragement or them witnessing us from afar – admiring our words, actions, and choices – we all have opportunities to leave a legacy that COUNTS. Even if we help just one soul get to heaven, that’s a big deal. It is infinitely more important than any earthly success we could imagine.
The secret to a meaningful life begins with relationships. And the secret to relationships begins with seeing God’s face in every human. If we do that – and treat each other accordingly – we’ll be remembered and talked about long after we’re gone. We’ll make connections that carry into the afterlife and experience that unspeakable joy outside heaven’s gate as we reunite with those whom we touched in our lifetime and celebrate their triumphant arrival home.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on January 5, 2015