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Good old President What's His Name

The Life Less Traveled

April 18, 2012
Last weekend, I challenged my wife to see which one of us could name the most U.S. presidents. I know what you're thinking. Wow, the spark of romance is alive and well in the Byerly household, and you, my friend, would be right.

Newlyweds, take note. There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned American history quiz to keep the magic going in your marriage. Forget candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. If you engage your spouse with some lively executive trivia, you are in for some serious wedded bliss.

Unless, of course, you beat them. Then, they'll just be annoyed at you for making them take the dumb quiz in the first place. Not saying that this happened. I'm just speaking hypothetically here, and am not, in fact, allowed to reveal the outcome of said contest or my wife's score under threat of severe reprisal.

I can tell you, however, that I could only recall a measly 28 out of 43 U.S. presidents. I'm sure all of you history buffs out there can not only name all of the presidents but list them in order along with the names of their pets and signs of the Zodiac.

I, unfortunately, do not share your ability. It's been 22 years since my last high school American history class, and I've slept since then.

But, seriously, who is going to remember Millard Filmore or Chester A. Arthur? Warren Harding? C'mon. How am I supposed to remember Warren Harding?

History buffs and Jeopardy fans aside, I'm betting most of you wouldn't fare much better than me. Go ahead. Try it right now. I'm sure you'll get Lincoln, Washington and J.F.K. Hopefully, you'll remember Obama, George W. and every president in your lifetime, but after that? It gets a little tricky.

Isn't it funny how forgettable some of our presidents have been? It's not that they weren't great men who loved their country and accomplished much on behalf of the nation. It's just that our heads are full of other stuff that seems much more pressing and relevant than Millard Filmore, who it just so happens resolved serious international disputes with Portugal, England, France and Spain.

At least that's what it says on Wikipedia.

My point is that you don't have to be famous or memorable for your life to count. Even being the most powerful man in the free world is no guarantee that you'll be remembered. We live in a world that too often equates celebrity with significance and that inaugurates heroes for a day before tearing them down the next.

The Bible actually says that God prefers to use the least and the last among us to make the biggest difference in the world. He loves to employ the obscure to do the impossible. So, even though you may not turn up in a U.S. history quiz a hundred years from now, that doesn't mean that your life didn't count.

It's those who practice daily faithfulness to their family, their friends and their God who find themselves on heaven's Mount Rushmore. Just because we may be forgotten by future generations doesn't mean we didn't have a huge impact on their lives.

Just ask Warren Harding and those other guys. Fame and greatness are two entirely different things.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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