During one of my camping trips last year, I spent an afternoon hiking and praying on one of the nature trails in the State Park where I was camping. As I hiked, I ran across a tree standing alongside the path upon which I was walking. I stopped to look at the tree. It was scarred with years of carvings. Initials, hearts, and dates stared back at me, mute testimony to those who had walked the path before me. The tree stood as a silent witness to who loves who, who was here and when they were here.
As I looked at that scarred tree, its leaves shimmering in the breeze far above my head, I came to understand that this tree was a signpost for all of those who had come before. Many people who walked this pathway left their mark behind for those who would come later to see and perhaps to follow in their footsteps. (I chose NOT to engrave my initials in the tree’s bark!) I smiled with amusement as I considered how many of those couples, whose undying love is indelibly engraved in this aged tree, are still together these many years later.
As I stood silently alongside the witness tree, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit, asking me this question, “What marks are you leaving behind for those who would come after you?” The thought sobered me for a few moments. You see my life (and yours) are given to us as a sacred trust from God. He gives us only so many years to walk this life and to make an impression. The actions, words, people in whom we invest and deeds of this life comprise the witness marks of our life that others who come behind us will ultimately follow. I paused to consider what kind of witness marks am I leaving for those who will come behind.me. How does my life testify to the grace and graces of God at work in me?
I guess my invitation to those of you who might read this is to consider the marks of your journey you are leaving behind you. Consider how your influence, your life, your deeds, and your words are marking the trail for those who come behind you. Mark your journey well…