Posts Tagged ‘eternity’

LEGACY 21: The Legacy of Asking Key Questions

July 13, 2018

It’s been several weeks since I’ve written a blog myself, but the idea for one popped up this morning when I awoke. We (my wife and I) are on our way to northwest Ohio (a 12-hour drive) to wrap up the affairs of her 93-year-old father, who died (preferable in my book to the somewhat euphemistic “passed”) this past Tuesday. In his waning days, he asked a relative, “What is the purpose of life?” The relative, definitely younger and less experienced in life, was taken aback and, not knowing how to answer, didn’t respond. She said she wished she had known what was going on and said something. I’m not sure that was the important thing. Can we ever really know if we say the right thing?

So I found myself thinking, “What are the key questions we should ask?”

What prompts us to ask? What is the purpose of asking? Do we really want answers? Or are we looking for something attendant—Relationship? Mere information? Satisfying our curiosity? (Why is it that children are always asking WHY? and we as adults stop asking?)

There are 2 kinds of questions—unimportant and important. Key questions definitely fit into the latter. But there are probably a host of questions that are important but not key. So let’s keep delving down into levels of importance and “key-ness.”

There are questions that identify information that matters, as opposed to trivia. There are questions that help influence decision-making. And there are questions that change our lives. I’m not a philosopher, so questions of epistemology (the theory of the nature of knowledge) I’m not qualified to begin to answer. How much can be known? The answer is the Question of the Ages: Who knows? (and if you respond in pat theological certainty, “God knows!”—how do you know that? And the begging questions, “Are there things He doesn’t know?” And on and on it goes…)

In my little, often-unknowing mind, there are a few KEY key questions for sure. My father-in-law asked one of them: “What is the purpose of life?” It can be asked in other ways or with other nuances: “Why am I here?” “How can I find meaning/significance?” “What do I need to be doing with my life?” Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (according to a 1991 survey conducted by the US Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club, one of the 10 Most Influential Books in the US. See Wikipedia under the term “MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING.” A humorous footnote: The archived article, from the NY Times, has 13 total books listed. Five of them, including Frankl’s, are tied for 9th place. There is no actual 10th place book.)

Key questions revolve around key needs: purpose, relationship, legacy. What will I leave behind? (Why do I blog? What do I gain by it?)

My father-in-law was one of the most purposeful and effective men I’ve ever met. He lived a full and productive life and left a great legacy for his family and his world.

I wish I could ask him now, “What did you mean by that question? Do you have an answer? Was it the answer you expected? Is it the answer you wanted?” and “Are you still asking questions? If so, why?” And perhaps the most important one for me, “What question should I be asking right now?”

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LEGACY 19: The Luxury of Being Able to Choose Legacy

June 6, 2018

I am thankful for the luxury of having time to prepare a legacy, to have the choice, to think about and mull over and meditate on what I’ve done, what I wish I had done, and how I want to be remembered. Not everyone is given that.

I think of the 19-year-old young lady who slipped and plunged several hundred feet over Whitewater Falls just a little over a week ago. She was the 2017 beauty queen of the adjacent county, a dance aficionado who loved teaching young children, and looking forward to going to Clemson from the local technical college. Full of life and joy and vibrancy—and suddenly gone. No chance to look back, to think over what she wanted to leave as a legacy. She did leave one, but sadly through no choice of her own, did not get to leave a greater one.

It’s above my pay grade to know why. God in his infinite wisdom knows why she’s gone and we’re here, still trudging along and thinking about the trudging. But you are, for now, and I am, and I’m glad.

The older I get (approaching 66) the more I feel that life is designed to prepare us for the afterlife. The aches and pains and burdens and sorrows accumulate, and it’s easier to want to leave, to find that better place, to not have those any more. I think of the counsel of Ecclesiastes 12, where beautiful metaphors are used to compare aging to natural phenomena—dimming eyesight like shades pulled down on windows or rain clouds darkening your sky, hair turning white like an almond tree in bloom, “apple-blossom white,” (MESSAGE), teeth as servants stopping grinding, legs like guards trembling, “you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper” (NLT) [I went to bed last night at 7:30, and woke at 2:30 with the idea for this blogpost incipient, and so it’s not even 3:00 a.m. yet!]—see creatively paraphrased versions like Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE or New Living Translation, or ones where it’s spelled out clearly like the Amplified Version.

The point of the comparison, the counsel, is to remember your Creator before it’s too late. When is it too late? Definitely when we’re dead and gone. And Solomon (supposing he is the writer) sees the danger of not having the faculties in old age to remember (e.g., Alzheimer’s or other diseases debilitating to the memory) and of having great regret for all the missed opportunities.

But my pastor, who’s 79, sees this as a time of great opportunity, of being able to look back and look forward and prepare. A time to grow closer to the Lord, to allow him to purge the past of pain by becoming more Present. I like that thought. And I’m learning to luxuriate in it. That is, for me, creating an eternal legacy.

And if I can encourage one other to do the same, I’m on it.