A few years back, on a road trip, I pulled off the Interstate and into the past.

There, at the foot of the rural exit ramp, were the remains of an old general store, complete with filling station island, car frame repair shop, and hydraulic lift.

Above and beside the store were rooms where the owner/manager must have lived, and all of it was on a lovely, wooded five or six acres with a pond, ducks included.

As I fished my camera from our tightly packed car, my mind was filled with a vision of what had been: a busy business on a heavily traveled road and the people who ran and patronized that business. Children munching snacks and running to the pond as the family car receives emergency repairs. An old man crossing the threshold to greet a friend. A woman worrying how much she owed the store owner for last month’s groceries. A mechanic wondering where he can get that size tire. A ten year old asking a driver, “Fill ‘er up, sir?”

Of course I saw none of that. Instead was a space where the pumps had been, peeling paint where pride had been, and darkened, empty windows where faces had been. All else had vanished. What remained was the shell of what time and circumstance had eaten away.

What kind of people were they, these who had vanished? What will God say about them? And what will be our legacy, after we, too, have passed through and are gone?

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James 4:14

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