A couple weeks ago I was standing outside the Worship Center looking at the Memorial Gifts plaque posted on the wall. This plaque contained names dating back as far as 1962. Some of the more recent names are names of people I personally knew. A few of them were names I’ve heard spoken. But the vast majority of the names were unfamiliar to me.
As I looked at that plaque it struck me how every one of those names listed represented an individual or family who valued the ministry of Salem Evangelical Church enough to tangibly invest toward our continuation. There was something about the way the church had impacted their lives that they wanted to pass on to others. Though I don’t know most of their stories, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for them. SEC is here today, in part, to their support. While most of them don’t know me, and I don’t know most of them, I am a beneficiary of the legacy they left behind.
None of the people on that plaque could have predicted the events of 2020. But they believed in a God who is bigger than a moment in history. They understood that the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ would last longer than themselves. They recognized that the mission of Salem E. was worth passing forward to generations beyond themselves.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (emphasis added.) In light of what has easily been one of the most challenging seasons of my life I felt myself convicted that I need to have perspective more like the people on that memorial plaque: I need to be less consumed by the discomfort of all that 2020 has brought, and choose to keep a more eternal perspective. I need to focus less on the hot topics of the moment, throwing off those distractions that hinder me. I need to flee from the sin of selfishness, pride, and outrage that can entangle my thoughts and attention. Instead, I need to persevere in keeping Jesus the focus of my affection and devotion, putting Kingdom values – eternal values – first. I am convinced that when I make that shift in my heart and mind, I will be more likely to be the shoulders on which those who come after me will be able to stand.