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Don't Fall For It


I attended a funeral today. It was for a fellow pastor and it was a deeply moving and disturbing experience. The part that was moving was obvious to all. This brother had lived, in just less than 52 years, a full and productive life. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. He was devoted to his Lord, his family, and his ministry. He was focused on sharing his faith and faithful in his calling.

He was so many things that I want to be.

That was the disturbing part. I just don't think that if I were to die today that my legacy would be as sweet.  I am not being humble; I am being honest. I have wasted much too much time. I have simply frittered it away. I have been grumpy over things that should not matter; I have been irresponsible, selfish, and self-indulging. I am not ready to end it there.

I would love to go to Heaven and be free from the cares of this world; but I am not there yet and I am still attached to this life and the people I share it with. When God calls, I'll be ready to go; but I may not be ready to leave if I have to leave a mess behind.

I want to be more, do more, love more, experience more, give more, share more, leave more behind.

And even as I write these words, they seem egotistical and self-serving. I have been saved by grace and that is all that I need, but I have not been the dispenser of grace that I have always known I wanted to be. I have not made the difference I desire to make. I have not finished my course.

Of course, that is just my opinion. And it is not the final word of the subject. God retains that right.

My struggle is not quite the same as Paul's in Philippians 1 - or is it? He knew that to be with Christ was far better than anything else. He also knew that he could do more for the baby believers he had nurtured if he lived a little longer.

Paul knew what his legacy would be. I am not so sure. I guess it depends on the context. God knows me and loves me as I am, but He also knows my faults. He is also the only one who can stamp labels across our lives.

But it doesn't stop me from contemplating.

Rich Mullins' legacy was actually called a legacy. it is the Legacy of a Kid Brother of St. Frank. It is run by his brother and sister in law - nice people. They take Rich's wealth from writing songs like, "Awesome God" and distribute it to ministries with at risk kids.

When Rich died, his friends came together and made a movie about his life and legacy. His life was about this passionate search for God and about service. He gave away most everything he made and, in the end, he left it all behind.

Rob Prevost's legacy ( the pastor whose funeral I attended) was a guy who suffered much physically, loved much, and left much behind in the lives of people who paid tribute to him. He loved to share his faith in Jesus, loved to study for preaching and teaching, and loved his church family. I was amazed at the deposits he had consistently made through the years into the lives of people.

And I thought, that is what I want to do. That is the kind of man I want to be - but I am not.

I commented to a pastor friend that it teaches us to number our days and apply our hearts to wisdom. It sounded trite coming out of my mouth even though it was from the Bible - but I meant it for me. I am also 51. I assume I have another 50 or close to it, and that assumption allows me to drag my feet. That is a luxury I cannot afford.

Can any of us?

The really disgusting part about all of it is that as much as I want to accomplish, give, and leave behind, I run out of steam - physically, emotionally, on-the-clock, and creatively. Sometimes I run out of spiritual steam. I get so impatient with myself and yet, I take the shortcuts, make the compromises, revise my goals, and go to bed.

I need that same grace that saved me to shape me. Rob finished his course and did so very well. He left a legacy that was visible to many of us. I'm still building mine - not all that well, but by grace.

So, why am I rattling on like an existential Christian in a midlife crisis? I just think it is time to take stock, so I am offering this matter as a main topic for the Christian Fellowship forum this week. What will your legacy be?

I am grateful for what I know of Rob's legacy because it has inspired me today. I wish I had known him better. I am glad he passed through.