I’m glad our college campus is located near a graveyard.
I don’t typically think about that fact, but one morning I wanted to get out for a walk, a desire which ended up with me wandering through the cemetery.
God has been teaching and reminding me of many things about Him and about myself in the past year. As I meandered along the graveyard roads, I couldn’t help but consider the question, “what does my life really count for?”
Surrounded by stone monuments bearing the names of people who have lived and died—some more than a hundred years ago—it’s a relevant question. There are probably few people who could tell you anything about some of the folks the older markers commemorate. But they, like me, had hopes, plans, ambitions. They, like me, probably had lives which they hoped to use to benefit the world somehow.
But for many, their only memorial is a slab of rock with some words chiseled into it. So many people and so many stories – where does mine fit in the grand scheme of things? My head knows the answer easily, and my heart echoes it with conviction: my life, as with each person’s, has some role to play in God’s grand plan.
I may not see it right now. I may never understand it fully here on earth. I will end up someday like one of the people buried down the street – an unremembered name carved in stone. Nevertheless, my life does have a purpose.
“But what is that purpose?” I wondered as I walked, the cold wind blowing my face. Life can seem so fleeting. It comes and goes so fast – what am I doing that matters? Throughout my walk, I noticed patches of small wildflowers. They too made me consider my life.
They grow and open up their little flower faces, for what purpose? Often, they get stepped on and trampled by beings much larger than themselves. They may be eaten or simply shrivel up and die when their time is done.
And yet they bloom. And even if no person ever recognizes their beauty, these small treasures serve a purpose: they carry on a gift to the next generation.
The Bible compares our lives to the lifecycle of flowers. Isaiah 40:6-8 contrasts the transient nature of the plants with the everlasting Word of God.
How? What is it that I am called to do that will last beyond the short days of my life?
The answer is love. And, surprisingly, this can be expressed using the lyrics of two pop songs, one old and one new. Frequently when I listen to music, I find a deeper, spiritual meaning. Such is the case with these two. Both were written to refer to sexual love, but to me they offered a broader lesson.
The first was “Who Wants to Live Forever?,” a 1986 song by the rock band Queen. “Who dares to love forever?” the song asks, as it informs that “love must die.” In the writer’s world view, that may be true.
But I believe that there is more to my existence than this brief life. The love I have been given, I am to share with all people I come in contact with. It then becomes like the little flowers – a gift that keeps on giving even when my short spring is over.
The second song that came to mind as I walked was Justin Bieber’s “I Just Need Somebody to Love.” And there is some extent to which that is true. I have been entrusted with a treasure, a gift. To keep it to myself would be selfish and wasteful. A self-preserving life is the epitome of a useless life. I am called to follow in my Savior’s footsteps – to share the love which I have been given.
I don’t have to go out and change the world to make my life have meaning. I do need simply to show individuals their importance and worth. I am called to share God’s gift with others. The rest is up to Him.