Like so many people, I loved reading the book Unbroken. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you do to so. It’s the unbelievable story of the life and times of Louis Zamperini. It will hold you spellbound. The movie simply doesn’t do the story of this man’s life justice.
But here’s something of which I can’t help but marvel. Can you imagine living a life that is so interesting and so significant that just before you died Hollywood decided to make your life story into a major motion picture? What if one of the last things you did while you were alive was see the story of your life relived on the big screen. Wow! Would that be wild or what?
Have you yet given much thought to what difference your life will have made after you cease to exist on this planet? What will you be remembered for? What stories will be told about your life? When your name comes up in the conversation of your descendants, what attributes or flaws will be discussed? I would suggest now would be better time than later to give this some thought.
As we’ve been working our way through The Story, we have read the life biographies of many different people. They seem to come and go on and off the stage rather quickly. You really do get a sense of just how fleeting this life really is as you read the story of one king after another. Perhaps a lifetime isn’t as long as we once might have thought.
As I was reading my Bible just the other day, something hit me, and hit me hard. Allow me a moment to set up the situation so it will make sense.
The setting is pre “pre-captivity” in the land of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has just fallen and Hezekiah is now king of the Southern Kingdom – Judah. Hezekiah has recovered from his illness and he knows he has a handful of years left to his life. He is visited by representatives of the Kingdom of Babylon and with their words they wish him well. In response, Hezekiah gives them a grand tour of his palace, the temple, the treasury of Judah, etc. In other words, he shows off to them. As they are leaving, Isaiah the prophet sees them making their exit. He inquires of Hezekiah who these men were and what they wanted. Hezekiah tells him and then Isaiah delivers horrible news to him. This is something God wanted Hezekiah to understand.
Here’s how it’s recorded in 2 Kings 20:16-18
“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
Did you get that? He is told all the treasures of Judah will be carted off one day to Babylon and your kids kids will become slaves of that kingdom. Could there be worse news given?
Now what is most shocking is Hezekiah’s response. It’s truly hard to believe! Does he immediately repent? Does he plead with God for a different outcome? Does he implore Isaiah to give him wise counsel as to how to negate this? Nope. None of the above. Listen carefully to what he actually says:
“‘The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,’ Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?’” 2 Kings 20:19
You read it right. Hezekiah’s response was one of relief. “Good thing this won’t happen to me, but rather to those who come after me.” Let me paraphrase, “As long as I’m ok, that’s all that matters. Too bad for those who come later, even those of my own family.”
Who would think like this? Who would take comfort from this? Only one who has lost his way.
When Jesus told us we are to die to ourselves he wasn’t just throwing around grandiose theological abstractions. He was simply saying that if we live to and for ourselves, our lives will not be lives of significance. Those who make the greatest impact are those who live their lives for the sake of others.
There are those among us who care more about those who come after them than they care about themselves, and their lives are dedicated to finding ways to bless those who will they will never meet. Are you one of them?
As has been said, only the most selfless people among us bother to plant trees that only their descendants will experience the pleasure of sitting under. What are you doing today to bless the lives of those who will come after you?
The coolest thing about Louis Zamperini’s life is not that he was unbroken. To read his story is to understand he was broken, broken for God. Maybe all of us should be a little more broken in this life. Perhaps this would give us a better perspective of what to do to make the most of our days.