Last month we had the opportunity to walk through the storied halls and chambers of Westminster Abbey across the street from the British Parliament and Big Ben. It was sobering to ponder the lives and epitaphs of both the famous and infamous etched on the tombs, walls, and marbled floors of this historic place of worship that now honors the dead. Here the names of common men are chiseled in stone among those of the Kings and Queens of England, archbishops, and mighty warriors. Sinners and saints surround the poet's corner, where many great artists, musicians, and literary lights receive tribute. For a brief moment, time stood still as the whispers of mankind seemed to echo through the Abbey and across my limited mind.
Joseph Addison, following his visit to Westminster, wrote:
"When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those we must quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates on the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider the great Day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together."
The many names at Westminster Abbey, together with Addison's thoughts, cause me to consider the purpose of life, how we spend our time, and what might ultimately be recorded in our own book of life. I have no desire to have my name or epitaph etched in the walls of Westminster Abbey, or in the halls of any other edifice or building. I just want my life to matter to God, to my wife and family, and to those I may meet and try to help along life's path. In order for my life to matter, I must continuously address questions like:
What can I do with my time on earth to make life better for
How can I make a difference today?
Is there a cause good enough for my very best efforts?
What battles are worth fighting for, and which should I just
When I stop to consider that over five billion people now populate the earth, I realize how blessed Pat and I are to have been called as missionaries. Our opportunities are great, and they surround us every day. We teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people can add to what they already know, understand the true nature of God our Father, and prepare to return to Him by following the teachings of the Savior. Ours is the joyful blessing of bringing people to Christ. There is no greater cause and no better way we could spend our time while we have the health, means, and privilege to do so. ~ Don ~