For Posterity (Or, “The Fate of Unborn Millions”)

I’ve been on a huge reading kick this year, and one of my latest conquests was 1776 by David McCullough. Now, I’ve never been a huge history buff, but David McCullough makes it come alive for me. (My family probably wishes I hadn’t read his book, The Great Bridge, as I haven’t been able to shut up about wanting to go to New York to see/photograph/walk across the Brooklyn Bridge ever since. It’s kind of an obsession…)

My main takeaway from 1776 was the idea of leaving a legacy, the realization that I am a product of those who came before me, and that I can therefore have a positive impact on those who come after me. Throughout the many letters and quotes in the book, I was struck by the strong sense these men had that their current actions would impact the world for generations to come. Though they couldn’t have possibly known all the future implications of what they were doing, from this side of history we see that they were more right than they could have imagined.

This reminds me of a Scripture that I just love:

“Our children will also serve Him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything He has done.” (Psalm 22:30-31)

This verse blows my mind on a number of levels.

First, because if you read this psalm in its entirety, it is a perfect description of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, even though it was written by his ancestor David thousands of years before Jesus was born. Also, Jesus referenced it from the cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (verse 1) and “It is finished [He has done it]” (verse 31). Quoting the beginning and ending of a psalm was like quoting the whole thing, and those who witnessed the scene would most likely have understood this reference.

Second, because this psalm is about me. At one point, I was one of those “not yet born” who would one day hear of the “wonders of the Lord.” David’s prophecy came true as the message made its way through thousands of years, thousands of generations, and finally to me.

And third, because this psalm applies to all who come after me – my future children, generations of my descendants, but also just to all who will be impacted by my life and the legacy I leave behind.

Mind. Blown.

I’ll never know how my life will impact others after I’m gone, but it is my hope that I will leave a legacy of love for God and love for others that will be a sweet symphony in the ears of my Father.

[December 13, 2013]

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