A plaque proclaiming “Todd Academic Center” appeared on the sides of a building on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. Bible classes regularly met in that beautiful, modern, three-story building. In one class a professor was teaching on the subject of preaching. Abruptly he stopped and asked, “Does anyone know who Todd was?” Everyone looked puzzled. There was no Todd in our class and nobody knew anyone named Todd. The prof went on: “Isn’t it funny that Mr. Todd donated millions of dollars to construct this nice educational building with his name on it and yet none of us know who he was or what he did?” His words got me to thinking about monuments etched in stone.
A few months later I drove down Main Street in my hometown, Malvern, Arkansas, and noticed a row of old office and commercial buildings. There, high up under the pitch of the roofs were names etched in stone. One read, “Richardson 1927,” two more, “Leiper 1923,” “Harper 1927,” and the final one read, “Dunn 1926.” Another city block of similar old buildings had just been demolished to build a new Walgreens. However, I wondered what ever happened to Richardson, Leiper, Harper and Dunn. They were surely long gone by then and the only visible evidence of the lives they lived were their names etched in stones.
In cemeteries across our land, you may see great stone monuments to people who lived, loved, died and left their marks…on gravestones. For most of them, the date of birth, date of death and a short epitaph summing up their philosophy of life is all that remains.
Think about this: Where are you etching your name? Fifty years from now will it make any difference that you lived on this earth? Or better, can you etch your name somewhere that will really last? Surely life is more valuable than to be remembered as a name on a dilapidated building, or carved in a grave headstone.
Where can you place your name so that it will last?
The Bible tells us of a place where your name can be recorded, forever, and never be removed. Jesus told His disciples about such a place. The gospel of Luke tells how seventy of Christ’s disciples had returned from a great ministry where many were saved and others were healed. The disciples were exuberant because the very demons of Hell had been subject to their authority. In the midst of their celebration, Jesus reminded them that there was something else more important; a thing immensely more valuable than their power over demons. Jesus said, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). In this uncertain world, nothing is as comforting or as treasured as knowing your name is written in Heaven. Repenting of sin, receiving Christ, and being saved, means your name is recorded in the very presence of God. Now that is a memorial that will last!
In a similar vein, Paul encouraged the Philippian saints to help several women and other fellow laborers, “whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). The book of life is where your name is written, when you receive eternal life, by trusting Christ. The importance of having your name written in Heaven is immeasurable. It is the difference between eternal life and death; between blessing and cursing; between Heaven and Hell. God revealed to John that, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
If you want to etch your name in something that will last, you need to call on the Lord and be saved so your name can be written in Heaven! After receiving Christ, you need to invest yourself in the only other eternal thing that you can see, besides the Bible—People! Early in Philippians Paul wrote: “I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me” (Philippians 1:7). Those Philippian believers Paul had led to Christ, baptized, mentored and taught, were in Paul’s heart, and we know he was in theirs.
Paul, John, Peter, James, other apostles and millions of Christians since, have had their names written in Heaven, and then have lived with such influence that they left their marks indelibly in the hearts and lives of others. Imagine the multiplied millions of men, women, boys and girls, who received Christ and were taught, trained, coached, encouraged and prompted to grow in Christ by other followers. Mentors may leave a mark for eternity in the lives of followers.
So, where are you etching your name? Will the only reminder of your sojourn in this life be on the side of a building, or on a granite slab that only a caretaker will see? Or will it be eternally written in Heaven, and appear in the hearts of people you have influenced for the cause of Christ?
Even stone monuments won’t last forever. But you can have your name recorded in a better place than a stone monument—a heavenly place that will never be demolished or destroyed. Through Christ you can have your name written in Heaven, in the presence of Jesus, redeemed saints and holy angels! Don’t settle for just having your name etched in stone. Instead, build your life and place your influence in the Rock that never falters!