What do you want said about you when you die?

Soldiers at burialAs the rain drizzled onto the top of my accessible van, I peered through the window to the burial scene unfolding before me. The soldiers stood across from one another gripping the four corners of the American flag over the casket of my grandpa. With stone cold faces, they crisply folded and presented my grandma this now packaged symbol of freedom thanking her for the service of Thomas Atkins in the Korean War.

As relatives gathered around the burial site, through the slight crack in the window, I could make out “Amazing Grace” being played by the bagpiper, fading in the distance as the ceremony came to a close.

I’m grateful it was not until I was 27-years old that I experienced the first death of a family member. However, with little experience in this realm, I have not often had the blatant reminder of how fleeting life is. God could not have been clearer with mankind that this would only be a temporary place of inhabitance: “From dust you came and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).

I listened intently at the funeral service to the testimonies of grandchildren as well as a detailed eulogy of a man born in the midst of the Great Depression who went on to fight for our country, developed a knack for sales and storytelling, and provided for and dearly loved his wife of 61 years, four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

I couldn’t help but wonder what will be said of me when my time is up. What legacy will be left? Money? Accolades? Accomplishments? Or will it be relationships? Time invested in people? Will the time had been leveraged to the fullest?

The time is coming. When they throw me in a hole, toss dirt on my face, and head back to the church to eat potato salad, what will the conversation consist of?

A friend told me that at the end of my life all that is going to matter is Jesus, his word, and people. We would be wise to invest our time accordingly.

I hope that 60 years from now, I will be able to say I effectively did so throughout my life. I intend to make the time count, keeping in mind of the legacy left by my grandpa and the surreal experience of watching the soldiers over him on that drizzly winter day.

Utilizing clips from childhood, I thought a video would be the best way to communicate what I learned from my grandpa and realizing our days are numbered:

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4 thoughts on “What do you want said about you when you die?

  1. As always, your posts give us all fresh insights and eternal perspective. Thank you for the gift that you are to the body of Christ. Thank you for opening your life up to us all, and inviting us along on this journey with you. And thank you for sharing about your precious Grandpa. What a beautiful lasting legacy he has given to your family. Prayers for comfort going out for you and your family, as you miss his presence with you on earth. (& thanking God for His eternal hope, in that you will be reunited with him one day in heaven!)
    Blessings to you. (Eph. 3:20-21!)

  2. Beautiful testimony to your Grampa and words of wisdom regarding heritage and legacy! Again, thank you Ryan!

  3. Hi Ryan,
    What sweet words about your grand pa! I remember sitting with him at ball games and seeing how proud he was of you. He raised a wonderful man in your dad and he in turn has raised two wonderful children that love the Lord. As parents what more can we ask? I’m sorry to hear of his passing but what a wonderful influence he was and will always be in your life. Thanks for sharing. kathy

  4. There’s nothing better than a good funeral to shock you into remembering why you’re here to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has arranged an encounter for both me and you today one that will Express not only his love but the gospel don’t miss it.

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