Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
The setting is a peaceful one, selected by Thomas Jefferson himself. Since the time of his burial, many others of his family have been put to rest there as well. While their headstones line the grassy hillside, it’s his that most come to see and none seem to feel it out of place that his is the tallest and most impressive. For all his weaknesses, Jefferson was a brilliant man. We are reminded of this by John Kennedy’s remark made in 1962 to a group of recipients of the Nobel Prize from the Western Hemisphere. “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Much has been made of what Jefferson wanted inscribed on his tombstone, and rightfully so. To most of us what is most significant is what he omitted. Instead, he wanted remembered he was most proud to be the author of the Declaration of American Independence; author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.
And how will we be remembered? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could select those qualities and achievements which most clearly identify us? The truth is, we can. Malachi 3:16 tells us: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” (ESV) He will take care of the details; what’s important is to make sure our name is on that list.