CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (BP) — It seems the older you get, the faster time flies by. One evening in early October at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I surveyed the beautiful landscape — the student center, the educational buildings, the president’s residence — they looked unchanged from when I was a student in 1973-76.
As I was sitting and praying on the bench my wife and I had donated to the school, I began to think about my classmates who had journeyed together with me on this campus over four decades ago. I wondered to myself, “Where are they now?” I was suddenly flooded with past memories of the years living life together, jogging around campus before dinner, spending hours in the library studying Hebrew and Greek, attending chapel services, and so on. Those were some of the best years of my life and I realized how much I had missed some of my classmates.
Over the years I have kept in touch with a dozen or so of them. Others I have been able to at least see their young-looking photos in the annual “funny book.” Many of them are still serving as pastors, missionaries, professors, chaplains, administrators and denominational leaders, working faithfully to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Once single students living in the dorms, they now have families and most of us are grandparents and in retirement age.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate more and more the God-given ability we have to store and remember precious memories. This is because we are made in the image of God. There are numerous passages in the Bible where God remembers us. Our most cherished memories are usually about the people in our lives. Memories, then, reflect the status and nature of our past, present and future relationships. How important it is to pass down our memories from generation to generation!
Last year my wife and I were invited by Ronnie Floyd to attend the National Day of Prayer at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Surrounding the rotunda were various sculptures of our nation’s past heroes. I thought about how much they had achieved in this world, but of course they all died. They are now memorialized in stone for us pass down their stories. One day our earthly life will come to an end at God’s appointed time. No matter how much we want or how hard we try, we cannot live beyond God’s timetable for us, and no one knows when our last hour on earth will be.
“Where are they now?” That’s a question we should only seldom ask. While we still have life we should invest our lives in relationships because time to love is short. Are you investing your life in people who will cry at your funeral? Are there relationships you need to restore or people you need to be reconciled with? Are there people you need to reconnect with? As a seminary trustee, my prayer and hope has been that we can create a community that puts relationship-building at the center of pastoral ministry and education. Since we have eternal hope in an eternal God, may our memories on earth reflect our love relationship in Christ and with one another, because they will remain forever.