The Wealth of the Cemetery
by Neil Hoffman
Where is the wealthiest land in the world?
Some might think it’s the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. You could point at the Muruntau gold mine in Uzbekistan – or perhaps the high priced real estate of Malibu, CA.
But you would be wrong in each case. The richest land in the world is the cemetery. Why? Because it is filled with all of the books that were never written, paintings that were never painted, successful businesses and ministries that were never started. Each of us is born with a load of potential, and, unfortunately, much of that potential follows us to our deaths, unused and inaccessible.
Let me get a bit lighter for a moment:
Have you ever bought a car/TV/computer because you were wowed by all of the amazing features – but then, once you get it home for a few months, you discover that you don’t really know how the fancy capabilities work, and you don’t really use its potential? That’s a waste, right? The thing was built to do a certain number of things, but its ability went unused.
I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning.
- Isaiah 46:9-10
God sees the whole picture. He’s omniscient, meaning that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. When He created you, He knew what you would accomplish, who you would become, and all that you would be able to do that you’d pass on. God placed dreams, hopes, proclivities, and abilities inside of you from the beginning so that you would be equipped to do good works when the time came. This is true for everyone. You have potential – but there are two kinds: realized and unrealized potential, meaning you used it or you didn’t.
When people die we talk about it all wrong. You’ll hear this: “She lived a good life because she was nice and lived to a ripe old age,” or “He has a lot of Christian years behind him, so that’s a life well-lived.” Let me tell you something that will not be a shock to you: Everyone dies. When that happens is just a footnote in history. A life well-lived has nothing to do with age. The point of living is not to die old – it’s to die empty. It’s to end your life having given all that you had inside of you. Jesus was only 33 years old when He died – but that was a life well-lived, wasn’t it? A lot of people have died very old, but they lived in fear, and they never went after what God had placed in front of them to do. That’s not a success, it’s a cautionary tale.
What God Can See
In the book of Judges, when God calls Gideon to be the savior of the Israelites during that time, Gideon is hiding underground like a coward. God comes to him and addresses him by saying, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” I imagine Gideon looked around and said, “You mean behind me? Or over there? Where is this valiant warrior you’re trying to speak with?”
At the time, Gideon sure didn’t seem like a valiant warrior, but God had placed that potential in him – and He called it out of him as well. (Read the full story in Judges 6).
Understand that no matter where you are today, God is able to see you as what you can be. No matter who you are, you have potential – whether that’s to design artistic works, start businesses, build houses, love the loveless, mentor the young, inspire the downcast, give to the needy, fight for a just cause, or whatever else it may be.
God has given you dreams, abilities, and a unique perspective. Be humble, develop these things, and use them for God’s glory.
Don’t take your potential to the grave. That place has enough wealth as it is.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
- Jim Elliot, martyred Christian missionary