I was in a store the other day and country music was playing. A song came on that I had not heard in a long, long time so I tuned in and listened to it. It was the song, Feed Jake. It’s a ballad by the Pirates of the Mississippi who sing about the troubles, trials, and tests of life. In the refrain the man tells his wife, “If I should die before I wake, feed Jake.” The point of the song is there are things beyond us that we want to have taken care of, so take care of my old, faithful, good dog Jake.
I was reflecting on that interesting little ole country song and I thought about the king found in the book of Isaiah named Hezekiah. You may remember that in Isaiah 38, Isaiah was sent to Hezekiah to tell him that he was going to die and that he should set his house in order. Hezekiah was sick, sick, sick, and he turned his face toward the wall and cried out to God to give him healing and life. Sure enough, God heard him and gave him fifteen more years to live. Those 15 more years were basically filled with time but not much productivity. He even heard from Isaiah that there were going to be bad things taking place in some areas of the country or other countries and Hezekiah wanted to know, well, how’s it going to be with me? Isaiah 39:8 records, “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.” Hezekiah did not seem to be worried about anybody else. He was worried about himself and that the days he had left would be peaceful and good. He wasn’t worried beyond that time.
Here’s the fact: Every one of us can take care of some things beyond us and probably ought to give thought to what needs to be done in what areas even after we’re gone. As a general rule most of us think when we’re gone, we’re gone and there’s nothing we can do to make any difference in the world beyond us, but that is not true. The Book of Revelation tells us that their works do follow people, and the people of God can leave in motion things that will impact the next generation and maybe generations to come if we would just give consideration to what needs to be done. Think for a moment about some areas where you can make a difference even after you are gone.
Think about individuals. A good man after he is gone can have an impact on his family and maybe even a circle much larger than that because of the preparations he had in place when he left. Every one of us should be concerned about our family members, our children, and our children’s children. We should think about people who maybe in life we were never able to get everything done or said that would make a difference in their lives, but when you die, you can leave a mark that truly will make a difference. Maybe there are individuals about whom you need to think beyond your departure from this land because you can impact them and even like Abel being dead, you can still speak.
Think also about the difference you can make not just with individuals but with institutions. You can be a part of a large work, a great work, a work that is not possible to be done by one person, but one person can make a difference in that work. Institutions are that way, and there are many who have made tremendous differences in people’s lives beyond their life. Think about institutions like colleges and universities, hospitals, the Baptist Children’s Village, special institutional needs where you can ensure part of your life is invested in the life of that institution. In a sense you would feeding Jake.
A last thought that I would give you is that in order to carry out something beyond yourself you might look at individuals, institutions, or ideas. Have you ever thought about the investment you can make in the perpetuation of great ideas — theological ideas, biblical ideas, the proclamation of the word of God, the spread of the Gospel — and those ideas stretching long after you cannot speak on your own? What an incredible act to invest part of your life into something that will go to help the Gospel forever to be preached, sung, taught, lived.
I think about the ideas in our country, the ideas and principles on which our country was founded, those wonderful concepts that made up the beginning days and the continuing days of our country: liberty, the value of each person under God, the rule of law, the freedoms we enjoy. All were ideas put in place that affect us every day put in place by someone else, someone who thought about feeding Jake.
It’s a biblical truth and a truth that can make a difference in your life, not only now but even thinking about when you’re not here because you can make a difference in people’s lives. You can make a difference in the kingdom of God. The old country song about a man with a dog that needed to be cared for after he was gone carries weight to our hearts to say not only do what you can do for the Lord today but do what you can to put in place the continuation of the Kingdom work far beyond your life, your voice, your influence. In fact, your care will still be there. Feed Jake.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.