Article by Brent Crenshaw
I love summer. I run to it undignified and grill the fattened calf each year upon its prodigal return. Night drives, dusk on the lake, the Coppertone-chlorine scent after a day at the pool. All of it makes me feel fully alive. Similar to Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, I believe the beginning of the year should be the first mow of summer instead of New Years’ Day.

Yet, there’s an unnamed, unofficial holiday that awakens my soul even more. In late September (usually) there’s a morning where you see your breath for the first time. The crisp, debut of fall. The vapor of a new season. Where the flaunt of summer is eclipsed by Autumn’s final chapter.

Our lives are that breath….a fading vapor. As James states in his letter, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). Because we are created for eternity, we all forget life’s thinness. Autumn comes.
Memento Mori 
With only eight words, two counselors have taught me the most important lessons on living. My friend, Dr. Clark Stevens taught me once that “death teaches us how to live.” Another, Dr. Phil Johnson, taught me the meaning of “memento mori.” Translated, “remember, you must die.”
Both exhort us to remember that our life will end, but that life must be invested not spent.

If death teaches us how to live, how should we invest our lives?

We turn from lesser things of little eternal value and align our lives with things that last into eternity. In essence, we do insider trading on the Kingdom of God.
Things that pass away
Scripture teaches us that some things are passing away and carry little eternal weight. 1 Cor. 3 specifically admonishes us that God will test our life’s manifest work with fire to see if it holds up. There are four areas the Bible teaches us from which to shift away:
1. Our Physical Life – We’ve already seen in James 4:13-17 that our physical life is passing away. We only have one metaphorical horse to ride and should steward our bodies well, but if attaining an ideal physique or managing our grey is our focus, we’ve missed it.
2. The World System – The broken world system (think corruption) is passing away. 1 John 2:15-18 tells us if we love this broken, here-and-now world too much, the love of God isn’t in us. The world has shiny objects, but shiny objects rust.
3. The Ungodly Use of Wealth – Scripture calls the ungodly use of wealth mammon. We know money and possessions in themselves are not ungodly. However, the ungodly use of wealth is also passing away and won’t last. Matthew 6:19-24
4. Our Citizenship – Even though I daydream of being Italian and eating pizza every day on a veranda in Naples, as Christians, we are not ultimately Italians, Americans, Lithuanians, or Senegalese, etc. In Phil 3:17-20, Paul states that our citizenship is in heaven. So, even our citizenship is passing away.
Things that carry eternal weight
While the four above are “passing away”, we know there is another building against which to lean our ladder of significance. There are at least three things that last into eternity and carry the weight of its currency.
1. The Word of God – Peter tells us all flesh is like grass and is wasting away, but the Word of the Lord lives forever. 1 Peter 1:22-25
2. The Glory of God – Colossians 3:18-24 encourages us that even our work can count for eternal worth if done for His glory. This passage is speaking to biblical era slaves. At best their work was likely menial. So, we know that our work (insignificant or not in the world’s eyes) carries over into eternal fruit.
3. The Souls of People – Jesus didn’t own anything of value, except maybe His seamless undergarment. Remember, the Roman soldiers shot dice for it and didn’t want it to be torn. He went to the cross unclothed and took no physical possessions with Him. However, He told the thief in Luke 23:32-43 that he would be with Jesus that day in paradise. Jesus took the souls of men and women into eternity. They were His treasured possession. He has also adopted us as the same treasured possessions (Ephesians 1:5).
At 46 I’ve now counseled hundreds of people as a pastor and counselor. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want their life to count. Yet, I’ve met many (me included) who’ve sought to make it count through misguided ways.

Dear one, if you are searching for significance, losing hope, or weary moving into your next phase of life. It might be that your life has been spent chasing the wind. However, it’s never too late. God loves comeback stories. Nothing is blocking you from immediately shifting your life to: putting the Word of God into your own life and others’, working whole-heartedly for God’s glory (even in a job you hate), and investing into the souls of men, women, and kids around you.

Memento Mori.


Pastor of Biblical Life Counseling Ministry