was driving home from a graveside service one day with the funeral director, wending our way through a vast old cemetery, through thousands of markers on hill after hill. We remarked about some of the elaborate structures people had had erected over their graves, some the size of a small house. He asked me if I was going to have a monument. “No,” I said. “I’ve instructed my wife that when I’m gone she’s to spend as little as possible on my remains.”
Funeral directors, because they sell them, have a vested interest in the accoutrements of death. “Then how is anyone going to remember you?” he asked.
His question set me thinking. How many of us will be remembered 100 years after our death? Only a handful of people in all of history have had that privilege—the Abraham Lincolns, the Napoleons, the Einsteins, the apostle Pauls.
Not you and me.
It is rather sad to think about, isn’t it? We spend a lifetime working hard, raising a family, trying to do something that will be significant. When we die, someone carves our name on a slab of rock, and sets it over the place where they lay our bones. Yet most of the graves of most of the people who ever lived are not only unvisited but unknown. There are billions for whom life (in King Macbeth’s words) was “but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”
There is but one comfort. Though we may forget those who went before us, though 50 years from my death (no, 10, or even five years later) no one beyond my family may mention my name, God remembers every single, solitary soul. Those whom we thought important, but also those who were in the world’s eyes insignificant. Those with great wealth, and those who lived and died in poverty. Those surrounded by people who loved them, and those who lived and died cared for by none. God knows them all.
Though all the world may forget, God remembers.
We don’t even know the man’s name; we know only that he was a thief and that he was crucified on a cross next to Jesus. In his final agony he managed to whisper, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
It was a modest request. He didn’t ask to be saved from
the cross (though Jesus could have done it). He just said, “Remember me.” Keep me in mind. Think of me occasionally. Picture my face.
Jesus offered him so much more: “Assuredly, I say to you today,” Jesus said, “you will be with Me in Paradise.”1 You will not only be remembered there—you will be there with Me!
Isaiah promises: “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”2
Talk about a memorial day! On that day God will remember everyone who has ever lived.
Yet there is one thing about you that God will, surprisingly, forget. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”3
People often remember one another’s sins; I’ve met those who remember every detail of the wrongs done them by a parent or spouse or friend, for all the years of their life. Yet God promises to completely forget our sins! Should you, in heaven, ask Jesus, “Lord, what did I do on earth that Your Father had to forgive me for?” He’ll say, “My child, I really don’t know. Your sins are not only forgiven; they are completely forgotten!”
“You know,” I told that funeral director, “I don’t know that very many people will remember me, at least after a few years have passed. Look at all these markers and mausoleums. For all this real estate, for all this elaborately carved stone, who remembers these people? No, I don’t care if you who remain here remember me. All I care about is that I’m remembered in the mind of God as one of His own.”
And I have no doubt that He will!
1Luke 23:43, NKJV. Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
3Isaiah 43:25, NKJV.