Now that the retirement years are here, I find my thoughts drifting from time to time as to what I’ll leave behind someday. I wonder about the imprint my one small life might leave upon the road I have traveled. Sadly, there may be more than a few potholes left by one bent on a prodigal heart. I mourn that possibility and wonder about the lives I may have impacted negatively for the Kingdom. But there have been good times too. The sweet breath of God has passed through this fragile flesh, surely accomplishing some of His purposes. I have not always loved well, but I have loved. I have spoken careless words, but I have also spoken God’s Word which promises never to return to Him empty. I’ve failed to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength but my desire to do so is greater than ever. There were days when I clung only to the hem of His garment, but most days it was He who held me fast, speaking ever so softly in the quiet of my heart, “You are mine”.
More than a few times I’ve commented on leaving a Godly legacy and I believe the desire to leave behind good and holy things for those we love is healthy. But a fragment of a song recently pierced my heart and I recognized something I’d never considered before. A legacy is about me.
Is that really what I want?
I’m pretty sure that John the Baptist had this one down. Jesus’ description of John was: “among those born of women, there is no one greater than he”. Yet John knew that in the larger scheme of things, his own greatness was of passing importance. Of Jesus, John said, “He must become greater, I must become less”. I will forever look to John not for what he did, but for what he did not do…cling to his own greatness.
Really it matters little what anyone thinks about us once we’re gone, as life continues at a furious pace for those remaining. But let’s be honest. Happy times filled with laughter, tender moments of love, and family tradition are certainly good things. They fill our own hearts and the hearts of others with great joy. The problem is not in their value, but in their longevity. All these things will pass away at some point.
I must ask myself, “Where am I sowing eternity in the hearts of those I love? Or in the hearts of those who cross my path?” I’ve learned it doesn’t occur by wishing and hoping and staying at a distance as I’d prefer to do some days. It happens by purposefully engaging, maybe never knowing what impact I might have on a life for the kingdom of God. It’s sowing Jesus seeds…purposefully, passionately and prayerfully… “ a long obedience in the same direction” as the recently deceased Eugene Peterson has written about. This is not my natural flinch.
Maybe it won’t be so painful to leave this earth and wonder what I’ve left behind if I’ve already left everything behind to follow Him now. Maybe today, this very day, I’ll reassess what really belongs to me which is precious little.
There is only One lasting inheritance that’s mine to give. Jesus. In the end, it’s the utterance of His name that splits open the glory of God. The finished, perfect work of the God-man. May His Name be on my lips and all that remains after I take my last breath.
“I don’t want to leave a legacy. I don’t care if they remember me. Only Jesus.”
“Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns