This past weekend in NYC was so wonderful. It is such a vibrant and colorful city. Yet, simultaneously gritty and dirty. I love the contrast at every turn. The diversity of the city speaks to me in a way that is hard to put into words. Whether it is exhibited in the various buildings that loom above you or the millions of inhabitants that bustle about you, each one is different and enthralling in their own beauty. There is unique beauty to see and yet, at the same time the sheer number of people that walk the streets can easily make you feel lost in the crowd.
One thing struck me though as I wandered the streets. There seemed to be an almost unanimous, albeit unspoken, desire to stand out from the crowd and be known. Through a name etched on a little gold plaque on a park bench, a wildly unconventional outfit or perhaps graffiti plastered on a gray corner of the city… people want to leave a mark. As if to say to the universe, I was here. I mattered, and I WAS HERE.
I had a very unplanned and special moment this weekend. I realized upon arrival in NYC, that I was staying only a few short blocks from the small baptist church where my grandfather had pastored for over 20 years. I knew I couldn’t leave without at least walking past the place that held so much family history and memories.
As I walked up to the front of the church, it became very evident that there was a good deal of construction being done. I almost turned to leave, but as I was about to, a gentleman covered in sawdust walked out the side entrance. I approached him a bit nervously and asked if was possible to see inside the church. He paused momentarily, obviously reticent because of the work being done and I hurriedly added that my grandfather had served there as a pastor for a number of years. Upon hearing his name, this gentleman’s eyes lit up and he said, ”that name opens doors around here.” He then proceeded to take me on a detailed tour of a place that has long been an integral part of many a story growing up. His passion for the work of the small church and love for the community becoming more readily evident with each step we took through the old building. He concluded the tour by telling me that although he had never had the pleasure of meeting my grandfather, he had heard stories of his passion for the city and his love of telling people about Jesus. He told me of his gratitude for my grandfather and the foundation he laid and their commitment to continue loving the city and its people.
I walked away that day, grateful for the legacy my grandfather has left and thoughtful about what I am investing my life in. The truth is, 20, 30, 50 years from now, it won’t matter if my name is on a gold plaque or if I wear an outrageous outfit. What will matter is if I loved people and was faithful with what God put in my hand to do.
I want to leave my mark. How about you?