In the second installment to my series “Vanity and Value” I shared my poem Gold. If you haven’t read it, give it a read here and then come back to read this post. But before you read the explanation, try to think about the poem yourself. It’s good to consider for yourself what something means, before another tells you about it (even if it’s the author).
My poem Gold begins with these lines “I hope to be known, to be shown.” These set the foundation of what I am to explore: my legacy. Of course, this is me imagining what my life will be like, or at least one facet of my life. The main aspect I focus on is writing. It’s an aspiration of mine to become a writer, yet I know it’s merely an aspiration, what will come of it only God knows. But I do know this. Even if I become successful in any sense of that word, or perhaps my writing becomes available and influential somehow, as I “envision” in lines 9 through 11, the final outcome is people reading my words.
You may wonder, “people reading his words? Who else would?” Yet by saying people will read my words, I’m considering the nature of humans. I’m considering the ability to deceive and distort meaning. I’m considering the indifference, malice, and capriciousness of humans. Or there may be those who are good-natured and only want to promote, but as it often occurs, even good-natured people can add a specific emphasis where no emphasis was added, because they too have a view on the matters written. What I am saying is that no matter what, once I am gone, I cannot make people receive what I wrote exactly the way I wanted them to. Now, I’m looking at this from a purely fleshly perspective, not considering what God can do, and that I may (and will) have errors in my writing.
It’s quite a dismal picture, but my imaginative tour continues. “I see the earth burning” and then it is gone. Everything (which includes any accomplishments I left behind as my legacy). So not only are there men who can distort what I worked and strove for, but everything will come to an end of utter oblivion. We see this in the 2nd Peter 3:10, where it says, “the elements will melt with intense heat…” But even if you don’t believe in God, what did you think would happen to our solar system anyway? Is that not the same thing scientists say? Either the Sun will eventually become a red giant, or an environmental catastrophe will occur, because our planet will no longer be able to sustain the growing population; or perhaps there will be a nuclear war, or an asteroid, or God knows what else can come destroy humanity as we know it. No matter what, we will become extinct. And even if I or someone else, becomes the most famous person in all of history, that fame will be buried with the last human to walk this earth, which means, everything will come to nothing. Again, this is from the human perspective.
Now, what occurs to me in my tour when I find myself near a stream from which “Saints are lapping,” is really the whole point of this poem. I look and I see a new world. It’s the New Heavens and the New Earth spoken of in the book of Revelation. Here, as I look around and then look at myself, I see,
a radiant white
adorned with metals the likeness of gold
as if purged by the prayers
and the petitions of old.”
First, my garment is white, and as believers we know we are made white only by the blood of Christ. He is the one whom God sent as the propitiation for our sins; that is, He took our sins upon Himself and died in our place to satisfy the wrath of God (John 4:10). So the garment is white because of Jesus, and I am clothed because of Jesus, yet what are the adornments? The adornments are metals purged by prayer. This is a metaphor for deeds, actions, attitudes, anything done in life, that is done in communion with and for the glory of God. My hope is not to be in the writings I leave behind. My value is not in my legacy or the way in which people interpret what I said and did. It’s in the pursuit of pleasing God, and how can I please Him if I do not have a relationship with Him? The point of my poem, and the point of this series is to show that if I do not make God my treasure, and if I do not live for Him, I will have no treasure in the end. Earthly things will pass, people will change, but God endures forever.