I recently officiated a wedding at a place called the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Howard County. It's a beautifully restored home that has been turned in to a restaurant and a great spot for weddings. The grounds are amazing. The landscaping is beautiful. The Patapsco River runs directly behind it creating some stunning scenery. But then, in the middle of the lush grounds and restored home, there are these old, dilapidated cabins. They seem to be so out of place. It made me wonder why they were there.
After a little research (and hopefully I'm getting my history correct) during the Civil War, these cabins were used to house slaves who were a part of the Underground Railroad. Now, the Underground Railroad was not really a railroad, but rather a secret route of safe houses used by Abolitionists to help slaves from southern states escape to free states. People risked their lives because of their desire to see people free. And, so they opened up their homes or their barns or their fruit cellars or any place they had that could safely house a run-a-way slave and send him/her on to their freedom.
I love history and I love looking at historical monuments, but the greater monument is the work that lives on. The work and legacy of the Underground Railroad will far outlive any of the buildings that were used. I doubt that many (if any) of the buildings are really being used today. But, I'm sure that the legacy of the work lives on in the generations who watched their parents risk their lives for this cause and the lesson of standing up for the less fortunate has been passed on to future generations. I'm sure the legacy of the work lives on in the generations who are now free and have opportunities they never would have had if someone wasn't willing to help them find their freedom.
These things remind me, once again, to invest my best time and efforts in what will truly last. How am I seeking to influence my family? Am I living out Proverbs 20:7 which says, "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them." How am I trying to point others to Jesus? How am I loving and honoring my wife? Am I setting a good example and trying to do more than is expected of me? How am I seeking to invest in what matters most, not in what will fade with time? These are questions I must answer honestly and evaluate regularly if I truly want to leave more behind than an insurance policy some old baseball cards and some items from my office. No one ever gets to the end of their life and wishes they would have spent more time at work or made more money or built a bigger home. You and I will not be the first. Let's live for what will last.