For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NASB
"But if you refuse to serve the LORD,
then choose today whom you will serve...
But as for me and my family,
we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15 NLV
Turning sixty really rattled me. Sometimes I still have to stop and think... sixty? Really? It did the same thing to my mother. I remember on her 60th birthday, she told me she still felt like a teenager on the inside. I can relate.
Long before my last birthday, I started thinking about the concept of "finishing well" and leaving a legacy. Now, I am not talking about living a perfect life. The only person who succeeded in doing that was crucified around 2,000 years ago.
I look back at some things I said and decisions I made in the past and wonder what I was thinking? I have learned we have to give our younger selves a lot of grace! There is a lot to be said for the wisdom of hindsight.
I have read so often of people who began well, at least claiming to follow Christ. They said they had accepted Christ as Savior, asked Him to be the Lord of their life... and I have no reason to doubt it true.
But somewhere along the way, they lost what it was all about. Him. Not them.
For instance, recently I saw that a ministry was offering a print by a well known Christian artist who died a few years ago. I have two of his books and they are among my favorite books about creativity. So I was quite stunned when I found out, upon his death, that he had been divorced (or his wife was seeking a divorce) due to his affairs.
He died as a result of mixing alcohol and Valium, in the home he shared with his girlfriend. Drinking killed him. Just like his dad before him, drinking became his downfall. You would think he would have remembered that when he took his first drink. I suppose he thought he could get away with a little drink here, another there... no harm.
We have all heard accounts of famous Christians who have made wrong decisions that took their life into areas in which I doubt they planned to journey. Pastors and priests who plunged into sexual sin. Elders who skimmed money from the Sunday morning offering. Christian singers and musicians and authors and evangelists and TV personalities.
Some legacies... I would say most of them... are tarnished by our own doing. Then there are those for whom others attempt to bring them down. Perhaps in my radius of knowledge, no one has made more of an effort to bring down the respect of his parent's ministry as Francis and Edith Schaeffer's son.
Scathing books written about his parents by a man slightly older than I am, quite bitter about his childhood and adolescence. Yes, he was neglected due to the demands of his parents ministry by the time he was born. But we all have flawed parents. Not to mention, they were quite honest about their imperfections in their books, especially Edith.
We choose to forgive or we let bitterness set in and become the pawn of the evil one. For just as all good gifts come from above... all bitterness and hatred spewing out of our soul is influenced by the father of lies and deceit.
We all have flaws. Every human since Adam has an area of their life where the enemy of their soul can find a crack in which to enter... should we let him get away with it. And it usually begins with an innocent thought, a reminder, a glimpse of something we don't have that we want and another has it... a memory of hard times brought about by something our parents or siblings or friends did... stomping our feet and pouting at counting every penny when the guy next door who lobbies for abortion gets to travel the world and enjoy fine dining.
Which is why I so often remind my husband that our attitude can be the best gift we bring to the Lord and lay at His feet. I don't understand... but I trust. When I get tired and discouraged and want to give up, I will turn to You, Lord... not the bottle, not the lures of one who offers sweet words to entice, not photos on the screen or chapters in a lurid book, not the second piece of chocolate cake or the entire bag of potato chips, nothing else.
Nothing life entices us with... not a thing which brings momentary pleasure but has eternal consequences... compares to the promises of Eternity. Everyone is responsible for their own decisions, their own actions, their own response.
My friends, we are in the middle of a great cosmic war between God and Lucifer for the souls of men. Our Father equips us with everything we need to battle! We are men and women of valor! We are the victors!
If... we keep our eyes on Him and not on the things of this world. That is not easy to do. I would say it is impossible without the Spirit of God living within. Our Teacher, our Comforter, our Friend... our Strength.
I want my legacy to be that with all the stuff life threw at me, I stayed the course. I finished the fight. I stumbled but did not give up. I kept my eyes on the goal.
Not perfectly. Never ever perfectly.
But with the asking of forgiveness and redemption when I stumbled... picking myself up (in His strength, not mine), brushing myself off, and running ever so weakly at times toward the finish line.
It doesn't matter if you are six or sixty, ten or one hundred ten... none of us know where that finish line exists in our lifetime. So we always have that goal in mind. "Well done, good and faithful servant".
Out of breath. Battle scarred. Limping along. But we made it. And before us there He is, arms outstretched, the King of Kings... the Lord of Lords... our Bridegroom... the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!
The stuff of this life? How could I ever have cared.
Image: Building Memories by J. Sorenson