I have had an emotional few months and have hit a bit of writers block, primarily because I’ve been doing battle with-in myself and with my spiritual enemy. I tend to have a hard time putting thoughts into written words when I am knee-deep into my circumstances, but once I’m out I can process more clearly. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my legacy. One of the fears that plagues me is that no one will remember me when I’m gone. Yes, welcome to my mind… we’re all crazy here. This fear of being forgotten drives some of my deeper insecurities and, I have discovered recently, is a stronghold for Satan to distract the mess out of me.
I want more than anything for my life to serve a purpose. I want the world to be a little different, maybe better, after I’ve left. I think this is a fairly normal desire for most people, but for me it can easily become an obsession. This is what happened over the summer. Instead of living the life God has given me with joy and intention I found myself comparing myself to other women I admire. Book-authors, Christian leaders, women whose ministry is making a difference in the lives of so many people. Instead of thinking of God’s call on my life in terms of relationships I began to think of it in terms of followers, subscribers, likes, and demand. And rather than spurring me on to faithful service, I found that this comparison made me feel ineffective. It didn’t matter what God’s call was on my life, I wanted more and bigger… whatever that means. By the middle of this new school year, I found myself over-scheduled and under fed spiritually. I was tired, depressed, and isolated. I was so focused on my computer and my studies that I was missing what God had actually called me- all of us in fact- to do… relationships. There were people all around me hurting and I didn’t have time. Sadly, it took a crisis to snap me out of my own agenda and back into God’s. Praise God that he works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)
Today is my dad’s 63rd birthday. He has been gone for 19 years now and I am sad to say I rarely talk about him. I look at his pictures and think, who was he really? Because I had so little time with him there are so many things I don’t know about who he was. As I re-read his obituary today I realized how much I have in common with him, how much of my legacy began with him. My dad was 43 when he died of lung cancer, in the prime of his life really. He was a preacher at a small country church, a Vietnam veteran, and served in law enforcement as a police man, detective, and instructor for about two decades. All of this I knew, but what I didn’t realize was the impact he had on people.
My dad lived a very difficult life. He was hurt badly by others and as the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. My parents divorced when I was nine and my relationship with my father became very estranged. When I was 16 I discovered he had lung cancer and after much persuasion from my siblings I went to see him. The man I discovered on that visit was not the man I had ridden away from 8 years before. He told me how sorry he was for the life we had lived together. He told me about being broken and about what Jesus had done in him. I saw my first real example of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ in my father. I didn’t have many visits with him after that one, but I am so grateful for the gift of that year with my dad.
On the day of his funeral, I sat at on the front row of a church that was standing room only. Officers in dress uniforms and people dad had taught, preached to, and led to Christ filled the pews. As I rode in the lead car of the processional I looked back and saw a line of police and other vehicles stretch on for two miles behind me. I looked at flags flying
at half staff and listened as my uncle told me the Police Department was closed for the funeral. I read card after card and received hug after hug from people I didn’t know who told me what my father meant to them. Relationships. This is how we create a legacy.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in 1 Thessalonians where Paul perfectly describes his feelings towards the people he had discipled in Thessalonica, “After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) I pray God allows this to be my life’s focus. I pray I am intentional with those who God gifts me with and lean into relationships with the love of Jesus Christ. And if I am forgotten, my prayer is that Jesus will be remembered in those who I have known. I am also reminded that my most important call is to my children. I pray I love them well, teach them well, and model well how to treat others. If loving Jesus and loving others is what they do best then my job has been done. What better legacy could there possibly be? I am thankful that at this stage in life I have the opportunity to reflect the legacy God gave my dad. HE truly is faithful.