Psalms 71:14-18 NASB
But as for me, I will hope continually and will praise Thee yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Thy righteousness, and of Thy salvation all day long:
For I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God:
I will make mention of Thy righteousness, Thine alone. O God, Thou has taught me from my youth;
And I still declare Thy wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all, who are to come.
People love awards. Motion pictures have the Oscar, Broadway has the Tony, and television has the Emmy. There are honors for acting, singing, and sports. Perhaps more important are the prizes for lifetime achievements. They represent consistent performance over the years —not just the previous year.
Similarly, the humanitarian awards praise those who have given much to humanity. Some like Andrew Carnegie returned much of their wealth for the betterment of mankind. Others like Billy Graham gave for little personal gain though they could have reaped wealth.
Many have done good things in this life but will not seek nor receive recognition. I have a friend who quietly accumulated wealth in business. He worked many long hours, lived modestly, and quietly served his church as a Sunday School teacher. A few years ago, his employees and friends noticed signs of dementia. He accepted the diagnosis of the doctor and prepared for the future.
He liquidated his business and generously provided for longtime employees. Recently, his wife also developed dementia, so he moved into an assisted living facility with her. He has no children or close relatives. So, he bequeathed his fortune to a religious college scholarship foundation. Few know of his commitment as he seeks no recognition on this side of heaven.
Like David in the seventy-first Psalm, he wishes to “declare Thy strength to this generation, thy power to all who are to come.” It is commendable, but most of us won’t have the fortune to leave to humanity. However, we will have a reputation that can be remembered. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth.” NASB
My mother is old and gray now. Yet, I can reflect on her life as a lifetime achievement award. In Hollywood, they show clips from movies as an example of an actor’s talent. I review my mother’s achievements the same way in my mind. I see her standing in her kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron while preparing a meal for her family. Every Sunday morning, she awoke early to bake some pies made from scratch for Sunday dinner.
Now I see her hanging clothes outside on a spring morning not yet owning a clothes dryer. In the next scene, she is picking green beans from her garden occasionally stopping to wipe the perspiration from her forehead. Later that day, she would can dozens of Ball jars for the long winter ahead. By fall her pantry would be filled with jars of green beans, pickles, and tomatoes. As I write this, I wish I could taste one of her pickles again.
These memories are not worthy of recognition to anyone but our family. But, to us, they are more valuable than a Carnegie Library. Her lifetime of providing, caring, and loving her family is worthy of my caring for her in her final years. That is my recognition of her.
© 2018 Ronald Milburn