Passing On


The bicycle pictured above is from Vashon Island, Washington. Some history can be learned here, but it appears most people don’t know where the bike came from. Some say it was left there by a young man who went off to fight in the Great War, never to return. That’s how I first heard of it and it got me thinking.

A picture’s worth a thousand tears.

When I’m leaving the house I sometimes think, “If I died today, what will they find of mine and what will it mean to them?” It can be a healthy question, or worrisome and destructive. It’s good to evaluate what impact we’re having and whether that impact will carry on in the direction we hoped for after we’re gone.

Whenever I leave, how will I leave things? It is good to consider. Of course, it’s unhelpful to overestimate our importance. God is in heaven and we are on earth. So let us not believe we are what you might call essential equipment for the operation of the world. As Charles De Gaulle said: “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”

My prayer: Oh, God. What I have built by destroying, destroy. What I have made by distortion, unmake. May the things I have shaped as things ought and shall be shaped, carry on.

What will we pass on when we pass on? Someday, when our prayers for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is heaven” are fully and finally answered, the earth will be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea. Someday the bikes will be reclaimed and we will go to war no more.

Hear. One of the most beautiful passages in the history of worlds and words.

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.

(Micah 4:1-5 ESV)


Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

This all reminds me of the song Chrome, by the poet laureate of abandoned bikes, Eric Peters.

To see more of Eric live and in human-person, check out the concert he did right here in the Rabbit Room.


  1. CyndaP

    Having just spent two full weeks going through my mother’s things, this hit a soft spot in my heart. Eric’s song came immediately to mind when I saw the photo; I love how you connected all the dots.

  2. Marsha Panola

    This is a lovely piece, and I really liked hearing the comments of Eric Peters on his song, too. That ache to see God come and make all things new is a daily thing with me. I just buried a baby field rat today that my youngest son rescued from a kitten’s mouth a few days ago. I know there are bigger tragedies all around us, but sometimes those little things get to my heart the most. The gentle but all-powerful God who made everything and notices every sparrow that falls from the sky has had to witness countless ugly deaths and other horrible things while he patiently gives our world more time (II Peter 3:9).

    About the things we leave behind, well, my mother was a wonderful person, but she had a number of things that never got used. (I’m thinking especially of dishes, but there were other things, as well.) It’s true, there aren’t many of the dishes we did use still hanging around, and the whole sets of cups and glasses and silverware that I hardly ever saw come out of the cabinets are the things that survived, mostly, but they’ve just begun to have a “life”. My kids love to drink hot chocolate from the colorful cups and milk from the sparkly goblets, and if any of these are left behind when I’m gone, I want them to have fun memories attached to them. That’s what makes things become special, anyway. But my kids know, also, that even special things are just things.

    I long to be able to say, like Jesus, at the end of my time here, that I’ve brought glory to God by completing the work he has given me to do (John 17:4). That’s my desire for my kids as well, and that they know the joy of walking and working with him.

  3. S. D. Smith


    Marsha, I like your comments on the joy of things and the using of them. Life doesn’t consist of the abundance of a man’s possessions (As King Jesus said), but it does consist –in part– of enjoying what we have been given.

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