Gone and Forgotten?

We were strolling down main street in Elkader, Iowa, and came upon the Historical Society’s offices. In the front window was a display of several old photographs and a sign that asked, “Do you know who this is?” One photo was of a family on the front lawn of what appeared to be an old farmhouse, another photo was of a large gathering of over 20 people, and another was a portrait of a woman.

The historical society had no idea who any of these people were, people who undoubtedly lived in Elkader or the surrounding area no more than a hundred years ago. Apparently none of the townsfolk knew them either, for their photos were still in the window, the historical society’s question left unanswered.

It’s amazing how quickly we’re forgotten. Hugh O’Brian was an actor best known for his portrayal of Wyatt Earp in the western TV series that first aired in 1955. It ran for six years and was consistently in the top ten shows on TV. Years later Hugh O’Brian was interviewed, and he said that fame was fleeting. In his own case the scenario went like this: “Who is Hugh O’Brian? “Get me Hugh O’Brian.” “Get me a younger Hugh O’Brian.” Finally, “Who is Hugh O’Brian?” I grew up watching Hugh O’Brian as Wyatt Earp, but I suspect many reading this are asking, “Who is Hugh O’Brian?”

We all want to be remembered, even when we’re gone. The reality is that we won’t be remembered for very long. We’re familiar with social distancing to control Covid 19, but this is chronological distancing, not measured in six foot increments but in terms of of 60 years and more. None of us knew our own great, great grandparents and wouldn’t recognize them if they rose from the dead and met us on the street. On the other end of the spectrum three generations from now no one will have a memory of us.

Enough of the depressing observation that any memory of us will be short lived. There’s good news too; we don’t have to be forgotten in the future! The teachings of the Bible are packed with references of how God desires to have an eternal relationship with us and has made it possible for that to happen. The repentant thief was promised such a future by Jesus when he asked Jesus to “remember” him as they both hung on their crosses (referenced in our closing scripture quote).

The great thinker and writer C.S. Lewis stated, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” We can, like the repentant thief on the cross, choose to spend that immortality with God, carrying out for eternity His amazing purposes for us. On this earth we’re eventually forgotten, but there’s more available to us that makes us truly unforgettable!

“And he [the repentant thief on the cross] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:42-43


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