As Memorial Day approaches we sense the value of remembering those who have gone on before us. We take note of their lives and the influence they have had on us. But Memorial Day also makes me wonder how memorable a life I am living? I want to be remembered. I want people to look back on my life and be inspired by the contributions that I have made. I want my life to matter. But how can I do that? How can I live a memorable life?
The gospels, in Mark 14, tells a wonderful story of a woman who left a memorable mark in the life of Jesus, so much so that Jesus said that what she did would be told whenever the gospel is preached!
Jesus was at the home of a friend shortly before his crucifixion. While they were eating, this woman comes in and breaks a jar of very expensive perfume and pours it over Jesus' head. Some of the believers gathered there are critical of the woman saying that the perfume could have been sold for a year's wage and the money given to the poor. But Jesus interrupts their griping by praising the woman and then declares that what she has done will be remembered for generations to come! This brief encounter with Christ made certain that her life would be memorable, and as she makes this memory she leaves behind some insight for all of us on how to live memorable lives.
First, we need to practice radical generosity. If you want to leave a mark then be willing to give away what you have, whether that be money, time, or resources. Generous people see their resources as a means to bless other people, not just a way to make their own lives easier. If you want people to remember you, give your stuff away!
Second, we need to look beyond the obvious. The disciples gathered can only see the apparent use of this asset - feeding the poor. Now Jesus is not against feeding the poor, but he admires this woman who uses this perfume in a unique way. She thinks outside the box. God has given each one of us distinctive resources that can be used in unique ways. Think about the special contributions you can make to the people around you. Be sensitive to special moments when your generosity can make an exceptional impact. Memorable lives are creative and imaginative in their generosity.
Third, expect and overcome opposition. This woman's unique, radical generosity is opposed even by believers. People who leave a mark are often people who are criticized and discouraged, even by well-intended peers. Throughout history the people who are most memorable are those who were most criticized as well! Don’t allow cynics to stifle your passion.
Perhaps none of us will have monuments built in our honor, but we can leave a mark on our world. We can be memorable. Why not start today!