High School graduation was a big deal. We were adults, and underclassmen suddenly seemed so young. En route to prom, my lacey-gowned girlfriend and I were asked if we were married. Married? That’s what grown-ups do! A few days later, I threw an all-night party, something my parents had never let me do before. Why now? Because I was one of “them.” I could do anything now! The next morning, the members of my band The Daily Planet sat on the roof watching the sun come up, not just on our little middle class suburb, but on our future!
We’d won a national talent search and would soon be performing on an ABC music special. Then we’d be off to college, majoring in music and drama. So we pretty much had a lock on stardom. We would become rock stars. Or movie stars. Probably both!
You could call it fame, and I did in a previous post. But it’s more than that, it’s immortality that people long for. We long to leave an enduring mark, a legacy. But legacies fade. In the late 1880s, journalist Nellie Bly took the challenge to travel “around the world in 80 days,” and did it in 72! For over a decade she was the most famous woman on earth. Fifty years later, few people had ever heard of her. In 1937 The Good Earth swept the Academy Awards and was hailed as the greatest film ever made. When I mentioned it at a Hollywood producer’s meeting in the 90s, no one there had ever heard of it.
I see immortality differently now. It’s not that life has beaten me down or crushed my dreams. Quite the opposite. It’s that my dreams were too small! They were centered on me, and I’m simply not big enough to contain such dreams. Yes, I write and make movies. But what I long for is to make God famous. One of my favorite verses reads, “Write down for the coming generation what the LORD has done so that people not yet born will praise Him.” (Psalm 102:18). I have no desire to hear “you’re so awesome.” What I long to hear is “your God is so awesome.” I want to make immortal ripples.
They don’t celebrate Brangelina in heaven. Or Harry and Kate. They celebrate Louise Krepplenick, the nanny whose prayers and patience are currently changing the heart of a cruel little boy, who will soon stop bullying his classmates and grow up to launch a missionary organization that installs solar panels in third world countries, changing the lives of thousands, one of whom will grow up to be the greatest peacemaker their country has ever known, who will in turn inspire a little girl named…well, you get the picture. Ripples that lead to God.*
Now that’s immortality.
High school graduation was a big deal. But eternal graduation is a bigger deal. I thought my dreams were big back then. Hah! Now my dreams are so big…
Only God can contain them.
*This example is fictional, but is inspired by several real people I have known.