A Delightful Inheritance


In 1981, at the Baccalaureate presentation a few days before graduation, a packed house of about 2,000 filled my high school auditorium. Superlative students received scholarships and kudos, offered up prayers of thanks, gave speeches, and filled the evening with hope. Only one award remained—the one honoring the student most involved in school activities.

My folks and I sat together, and as the award recipient's list of clubs and groups grew, I sat on the edge of my seat.

"National Honor Society, Science Club, Math Club, Photography Club, Chess Club, French Club, French National Honor Society…"

I knew most of the folks in those groups and started narrowing down the list of contenders. More clubs and groups rattled by. I said to my mom, "The person getting this is never home." She nodded.

When the Student Body President started in on the astonishing number of band-related functions—Orchestra, Pep Band, Concert Band, Marching Band, Chorale, Stage Band, Theater Orchestra—I had to admit I had no idea who this nut could be who was so massively involved in the school.

Then she read my name.

I fell out of my chair and somehow landed on my feet, rubbery legs guiding me from my spot way in the back of the auditorium to the stage. People were standing and cheering. Shock and disbelief on my part. Harrington Mann's "Angel Plucking Tulips"I'll probably never again get that feeling of being a celebrity.

And not once during the reciting of that list had I realized I was that highly involved person.

Last Monday, I attended the memorial service of a friend who spent the best years of his life giving his time and talents to others. When we pulled into the massive church, the parking lot bulged with cars. A human line streamed down the stairs into the church's auditorium. I suspect more than 1,300 people came to remember one man.

Upon witnessing the crowd, I failed to hold back the tears. Our friend was so well loved. During the service, a mic was handed around and people shared their stories of how our friend had touched others with his faith in Christ and his overt generosity, always giving away, always meeting a need. I think everyone there could have shared a special moment in which they'd been the recipient of this man's large heart. His past and present students spoke and when asked to rise, it seemed like the room was filled with people standing.

What a good, godly man. A man who never took the spotlight, but who gave and gave until it was time to go home. When a soloist sang Ray Boltz's classic "Thank You", there in that crowd I considered that never before had that song been so fitting a tribute.

One day, out on the boat from which he taught kids to water ski, he shared with me a Scripture he said was his life verse. A new believer at that time, his excitement at finding this verse was electric and his joy palpable: 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
—Psalms 16:6 NIV

When the discouragements of life press down on you, know this: you have a delightful inheritance. One day, you'll be standing among the saints in the presence of God and one of his angels will read through a list of godly acts rendered to others over the course of a full and blessed lifetime.

And then he'll call your name.

Was that you who helped the old lady get to her car without slipping on the ice? Or who taught the third grade Sunday School class? Did you sit and weep with a neighbor whose child died far too young? Did you prepare the communion elements alone in the church kitchen? Or pray through the church directory every day?

Thank you. Bless you for giving to the Lord. Surely you have a delightful inheritance.

And when you turn around to face that multitude in glory, we'll all be cheering.

{Image: Harrington Mann's Angel Plucking Tulips 1894}

4 thoughts on “A Delightful Inheritance

  1. Deb

    I agree…tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. May we all live in such a way that this could someday be our story. Thanks for sharing, Dan.

  2. DPT

    Thanks, it was refreshing. But not contentious enough. Are you sure you’re not going soft or something? I’ll be keeping my eye on you, you can be sure of that…

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