Who will you miss most this Christmas? Will it be a friend from college? Or, perhaps it will be a special grandparent or the spouse you shared life with for so many years. Although Halloween is the attention star this week, it is really only the warm-up act for the next day–All Saints Day; a day to remember special faith filled followers of Christ who are now dead, celebrate them, and seek to emulate their worthy characteristics.
Looking back can lead to intentional living into the future. The importance of how we live and its effect on the generation that follows us must not be understated. It is seen clearly in the lives of some of the Bibles most known saints. Joshua led the Hebrews into the Promised Land. When his generation died, the next generation forsook the LORD and provoked him to anger. When Samuel was a child growing up in the temple, the two sons of the chief priest, Eli, were rebuked by him for for the evil they were doing, but they “did not listen”. In much the same way Samuel’s sons did not walk in their father’s godly ways, but “turned aside after dishonest gain”. Their faithless leadership led to a loss of physical security, financial prosperity, and corruption in society. How can we live so that those coming after us will not just miss us when we are dead, but live prosperously rather than painfully?
St. Teresa of Avila lays a good foundation in the Interior Castle when she said, “how little one should think about resting…honours, and…wishing to be esteemed…if the Lord makes his special abode in the soul….it will very seldom think of itself; its whole thought will be concentrated upon finding ways to please him and upon showing him how it loves him”.
Evelyn Underhill builds on this understanding in The Spiritual Life when she diagnoses how many lives are spent “conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do.” This keeps us “in perpetual unrest” and are only important “as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of a spiritual life.”
The character of being Underhill has in mind comes from the instruction for living God gives in the Bible in places such as Psalm 19. There it says God’s instruction, His law, His guidance revives the soul, makes us wise, brings joy, and gives insight for living.
Who will miss you when you are dead? Those you led by example. Those you taught with words and demonstrated in your daily actions. Those who were not just taught but trained up in the way they should go so that after your death and into their old age they do not depart from the path of life leading to holiness and joy. When people we care about see someone live a daily life submitted to the loving just will of our heavenly Father, they will see a life blessed with right decisions, less pain than many experience, peace and joy. You may even be referred to as a saint. May your all hallows eve be blessed and may you bless the saints who walked before you on Sunday, All Saints Day.