I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1:3 NIV)
Two and a half weeks ago, my grandfather passed away peacefully at the age of 106. He lived an amazing, full life, and has been a great inspiration to me. Given his remarkable age, my family was prepared for the event of his passing at any time, yet its occurrence still had a considerable emotional impact and leaves a big hole in my life. Without him, I feel silence where there was once a guiding and comforting voice. And there is no one else in my family I can talk baseball with.
My grandfather, Isidore Starr—or Iz, as most called him—taught law for over 50 years and was an authority on the Constitution. He authored several books, helped found the nationally recognized Law Related Education program in Texas, and participated in legal education workshops all over the country even well into his retirement. Numerous honors and even an annual award in his name commemorate his contributions to the field of education.
But beyond all his achievements, my grandfather was a humble, supportive and encouraging man. His passion for educating others was evident in everything he did, and he always tried to be there to help guide and help those he loved. People whose lives he touched always have heartfelt stories to tell about him. As for me, I cannot begin to describe all he gave me over the years. He helped me through many challenging times and always pushed me and encouraged me to pursue my goals. He was always there to listen to me, providing both motivation and constructive criticism when I needed it.
While Grandpa leaves quite a legacy behind and gives me much to aspire to, I find the best way to remember him is to embrace the man I have become, whom he loved, to pursue my passions, and to live with a positive attitude, devoted to family and the values we stand for. Indeed, his last words to me and my family in the hospital were, “Go out and enjoy life.”
Through His Son, God essentially tells us to do the same thing. In communion with Christ, we can experience the fullness of life in the Spirit, approaching our various callings with confidence in His presence and the gifts He has given us. When we take the bread and the cup of communion, Jesus tells us to “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24). When we truly remember Jesus and all He did for us, we should respond with actions that reflect His love and share His message of hope and salvation.
Each of us will be remembered in some way. Our lives will be defined by how we use and share our knowledge and gifts, and ultimately, by how we love. Paul describes the kind of memories we ought to strive to leave behind as he addresses the Thessalonians: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV).
I am also reminded of lyrics from the song Let It Be Said of Us by Steve Fry:
Let it be said of us: We were marked by forgiveness, We were known by our love And delighted in meekness, We were ruled by His peace, Heeding unity’s call, Joined as one body that Christ would be seen by all.
Even if we live in relative obscurity, our lives will inevitably intersect with others and touch them somehow. As long as we love Jesus and are willing to follow wherever He leads, the defining deeds will follow. He knows what we are capable of and will provide what we need to carry out our calling. Therefore we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus to be vessels of His love and carriers of His message. We must trust Him with all our hearts, and let our faith lead us to action. That foundation will define our interactions, and how others see and remember us.
Daniel can be reached by email here.