Leaving Your Mark

Back in September, I took a few days off and went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was the first time I had been there since 2002, when my family and another family had all vacationed together. There has not been a day that has passed since September where I haven’t thought about that weekend, and just how great it was to wake up every morning to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, to see the Lighthouses, enjoy the sea as much as possible (the dreaded red “No swimming” flags were out, due to Hurricane Larry, some hundreds of miles off the coast), and to meet some great people, a few of which I’ve kept in contact with since then, not to mention the relaxation and freedom I felt, not worrying at all about anything going on at work, or in Richmond, or in the country or in the world. Vitamin Sea really does cure all ailments.

One of the days when my family and the other family vacationed in the Outer Banks 19 years before, we all went down to Hatteras and Ocracoke. In the sidewalk at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was an imprint of a lizard who had gotten caught in the cement; my brother and I and Julia and Jackie took a picture around it.

When I was there back in September, as I walked around the property at the Lighthouse, I wondered if the lizard imprint was still in the sidewalk; I figured the chances of that were slim to none. After looking around a few minutes, I found it near two boulders and some benches.

It had been 19 years; the lizard’s mark was still there.

Part of me couldn’t believe it. The other part could; one thing I had noticed about the Outer Banks upon my return was that very little had changed from what I remembered.

I sat there on the bench for a few minutes as people walked by, and I thought there just had to be some lesson to take away from that little marking in the sidewalk: think of all the millions of people who had walked over it in the past 19 years, and all the tropical storms and hurricanes that had passed through (most notably, Isabel, in 2003). Yet, the lizard’s mark was still visible.

What kind of mark are you leaving on the world?

There’s plenty of good and bad examples in Scripture, of people who left their mark, and it was still there many years after they were long gone: Solomon, who even though I like to think repented at the end of his life, made some mistakes and the effects were felt through Israel for generations. The Book of Ecclesiastes may be his reflection on all he had done, whether good or evil. Of Jeroboam, it’s written many times that he “made Israel to sin.” Of course there are many great examples as well (the most important, of course, being Jesus himself). Imagine when Paul is resurrected, and he gets to see the full result of his preaching effort, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they get to see the Promises fulfilled and the reward for their faith. These examples are thousands of years old.

Even the little things we do in life can have a major impact, for better or worse. The “butterfly effect” is very real, and what you do can have a lasting effect long after you’re gone. How do you want to be remembered?

On the last night of my trip, I spent a few hours at the Lighthouse, taking photographs of it with the Milky Way in the background, and talking to people who had also come out to enjoy the night, but one thing I really appreciated was just watching the Lighthouse do its thing: shine its light. I sat there on the amphitheater for quite some time after finishing my photos, watching the rotating beam of the Lighthouse shine in all directions. The Lighthouse didn’t care what type of people were out there at sea; it just shined. Jesus—the Light of the World—tells us to let our light shine before all people, that they may see our good works and glorify our father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Think of all the people out there who are in darkness and need light; you may be the only light they ever get. No one hides a light under a box; it does no good that way. Be the example that others will want to follow.

Grace and peace,

-Dan

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