Today, I happened to be listening to Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton singing “When I Get Where I’m Going”, and it got me thinking. I’ll spare you the random hops and schisms that led me to this, but I began to consider what would my kids remember, if I was gone. I thought of how we played my Dad’s favorite hymn at his funeral, and…do my kids even know my favorite song, let alone if it’s a hymn?
What would my kids remember of me? What would my headstone say? “Soli Deo Gloria”, like my Dad? “He was a living sacrifice”? “Beloved Father, Brother, and Friend”? What kind of phrase sums up me? And do my kids see that? Or would they remember me a different way?
So much of our world has pushed us to think only of today. Whether it is the entrenched consumerism, society’s ever-militant desire to deny God, or the immediate fears of things like COVID, there are forces all around which seek to draw us only into a self-centered “now” and to ignore the ramifications of our actions.
Some years ago, God asked me a question, “what if I took your kids from you, tomorrow?” “Whoa, God! You can’t do that! That wouldn’t be right!” “That’s not the question; what would you do differently, if you knew you wouldn’t have your kids tomorrow?”
After a few tears, my brain started cooking. God wasn’t being mean; He was being purposeful and directing me to think about what was important, to be intentional in raising my kids. And that day, I decided, if I lost my kids tomorrow, I’d want them to know that they were loved, to know the Gospel that Jesus could save them from their sins and give them everlasting life via a relationship with Him, and I’d want them to know that I, specifically, was their father who loved them.
By the gracious hand of God, and through multiple circumstances, my kids know these things. Even if He were to call me home today, I can confidently say that they would remember that their Dad loved them dearly, and they’d know their Father God. What they did with that? Well, that’s largely up to them, but I think that’s also part of why God hasn’t taken me off this earth yet.
So, what would be your legacy? Do you have kids? If not, what would your friends say of you? Do you have at least one close friend or maybe a brother/sister? What could he/she say of you? Would they speak of the love of Jesus flowing from you? Would they be able to articulate the Gospel? Or would they say that you were a partier? A rocker? A lover who never committed? What is your legacy, thus far?
The beauty in Christ is that there are second chances! If your legacy does not reflect Jesus, then you can repent (admit it’s wrong and turn around) today and start a new legacy. It may not be as clean-cut as you’d hoped, but maybe that legacy goes from “yeah, he was my father, but I never knew him” to “yeah, he was my father, and at the end, he weirdly changed and tried to be a part of my life.” But I’ll encourage you that I’ve known folks who had that story, and that “weirdly changed” later became “he started following Jesus, and it took me some years to realize that I needed to do that, too.”
In 2 Kings, there’s the recounting of a man who was sick and dying. Isaiah is sent to him to tell him to get his house in order, for he is going to die. The man weeps and cries out to the Lord to remember his faithfulness and his service to the Lord. Shortly thereafter, Isaiah is given a second message for the man; he is told he will recover and has been given another 15 years. While some think this is God changing His mind, I tend to view it as God telling this man what he needed to hear to motivate him to do what he needed to do. Some may view that as a lie, but God knows all; if the man hadn’t cried out, I’m certain he would’ve died, but he did, and God knew he would.
The same is true for you and I. We may think we’ve failed, permanently and completely, but God is so much more faithful and capable than we have ever known! If we follow after and serve Him, He will make beauty out of ashes, and He can work through you to leave a legacy of service to Jesus that will carry on for generations.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10. And I encourage you not to serve Jesus in some religious, self-serving, or even self-saving way. Rather, serve Him out of a real acceptance of His death in your place, a recognition of His resurrection, and a desire to follow after and serve Him with whatever time you have left!
Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10