I, in my pride and arrogance, say, “Look what I’ve done for you, God.” And He patiently answers, “No, child; look what I’ve done for you.”
We all have them; those days when it seems God is trying to tell you something over and over. That’s how my day started. The above thought came to me at 4:30 am when I had to get up and make a trip down the hall. When I finally got up for the day at 6:30 it was still there so I put it on my Facebook feed since it seemed to be something worth sharing.
My usual routine in the morning is to grab a cup of coffee and open my email which contains several devotional messages from various sources. The first was about Jonah and his mission to Nineveh, with the main theme being the importance of submission to God’s will, and his promise of abundant life in spite of difficulties. The next one was about the old movie The Karate Kid, and its message was that we need to be more of a reflection of Christ’s love and mercy than “warriors for God”. Next up was Oswald Chambers (one of my personal favorites) with a daily devotional titled The Ministry of the Unnoticed about being spiritual paupers. Finally, John Piper’s Desiring God with a message about humility. After all that I began to sense a theme (it took me a while; I was still working on my coffee!)
Actually, this whole line of thought started with a movie we watched by chance the other night, Passengers. It starred Jennifer Lawrence (not a fan) and Chris Pratt (am a fan, which is why I decided to watch). The movie itself was entertaining enough, but the story line intrigued me and raised some questions for further thought. The story is about a spaceship taking a group of colonists on a 120 year journey to a new planet, and how two of them wake up 90 years too early.
The questions raised are these: how would you choose to live your life if no one else would ever know about you? What kind of legacy or message would you leave behind for those you know will eventually come along? And does it really matter?
I freely admit my greatest struggle is with pride. I suspect I’m not alone in this. I’m acutely aware of the family legacy from which I come. It’s both a blessing and a burden. It’s made me who I am. But sometimes it’s tough to live up to it, and it feeds into the pride thing if I dwell on it too much. I’ve caught myself dwelling on legacy quite a bit since seeing the movie. So I think that God was sending me a gentle message this morning. And when he repeats himself you need to pay attention.
We all get hung up on making our mark on the world sometimes and how we’ll be remembered after we’re gone. It goes with being human. We may pretend we don’t care but it’s there nonetheless. We all have that little child in each of us crying, “look at me!”. We crave recognition and sometimes go to great lengths to get it. And yes, even as Christians we fall prey to it. We want to be recognized for our spirituality, how important we are to Christ’s church and his cause (even as wonderfully humble individuals!).
So I think God was gently reminding me this morning: my “legacy” doesn’t really mean much one way or the other. My true legacy lies in being the broken empty vessel He can fill with his Spirit and touch lives in ways I may never understand or even be aware. What people remember about me years from now isn’t near as important as who I am today. That’s where legacy starts. Not long ago I ran across this quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“I wonder how many Christian people could have their biographies condensed into this line: “He lived to make Christ known”? “
If I have any legacy at all a hundred years from now, this is the one I’d want. If no one remembered anything else about me except this, then my life would have been a success.