Will it matter a hundred years from now? This is a question I have come to ask myself when I’m tied up in knots about a family or work situation. I find it to be especially helpful when I’m stuck on my perspective and having difficulty being open to others’ perspectives. The question can be expanded: is the emotional investment, the sleepless nights and the churning stomach, the battle that I’m waging—is it really worth it? Is this how I want to be using my time and energy? Will it even matter a hundred years from now?
The question itself usually comes with an answer. Most typically, the answer is no. The goal that I am so earnestly striving for is not one of lasting significance. A hundred years from now, the outcome, whether or not it’s my preferred one, will matter not one whit. The consequences will be as fading as the grass described by the biblical psalmist. “As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16)
The hundred year question and its most likely answer gives me space to unhook from fleeting pursuits and recommit to larger goals. Again the psalmist has a word for us when we are reminded that a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day. (Psalm 90:4) The thousand- or hundred-year concept challenges our futile striving and self-preoccupation, even as it comforts us with a vision of God’s timelessness.
Perhaps the fathers among us can take heart at such musings. Maybe they are useful for all of us as we mark Father’s Day. Fathers and mothers wonder about the ultimate significance of their efforts. Will it matter how I parent my child? Will our sons and daughters catch the values we are trying to pass on? Will my caring, my teaching, my discipline have a lasting impact? A hundred years from now, will it matter?
My father’s influence on the lives of his children has now lasted over a half century, as his sons and daughters move through middle age. Going about my life, I often think about him. I call on his boundless physical energy to strengthen me when I am tackling a job that seems to be too hard. I recall the gracious way he apologized to his children for hurtful actions of the past. I feel his delighted smile spread across my face when I welcome my adult son home, much as Dad did his children. During morning devotions, I remember his love of scripture, a love that I share. I hear his wise counsel when I am facing a challenging situation at work. I treasure his Christian witness of renewal and transformation.
As one child reflecting on one father, it is easy for me to imagine that his legacy will last one hundred years or more. While I may not make the century mark, his labours have already shaped me for decades, influencing how I respond to those around me.
The gifts he gave to me are ones that I carry with me; I use them today and pass them on to my son and to others, who may do the same. Thank God for fathers who leave a worthy inheritance, one that will matter in a hundred years.
Melissa Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in Winnipeg where she works as a pastor and counsellor. Her family ties include that of daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.