Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Choosing your legacy

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


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Yes, yes, yes!

I, too, was heartbroken about that artist. Not because he didn't live up to a certain standard, but because he lost himself along the way - he took his eyes off of Jesus. I hurt for him, and for his wife and daughters.

It is true that our attitudes are the best thing we can lay at His feet. The example is in Franky Schaeffer. His sister, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, likely has things she wished were different in her growing up years (don't we all) but she has chosen to walk with Him and to use her writing to encourage families.

I'm thankful that He keeps working in us to change us. I'm also thankful for the heart to keep my eyes on Him.


Vee said...

Beautiful! I know this man you speak of and was so saddened to hear it. Much as I felt about the story on tv last night of a missionary who committed a grave sin. When his young children were told, the eldest little boy said, "Everyone makes mistakes." His grandfather corrected him saying that it had not been a mistake, it had been the wrong choice. And here this post comes to shore up some of my pondering about such things. The answer is always choosing Jesus first in every.single.thing.

Rebecca said...

Great reflections and observations, Brenda.

....thinking how much mercy and grace God has poured out on me. May I always remember and recognize my need for it "all the days of my life".

Grieving for those who forget and knowing that "there but for the grace of God go I".

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes I struggle so much when I consider the state of the world. . . the church. . . myself.

May we always remember the message in the old hymn "Rock of Ages."

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this reminder. It is a great encouragement. Praise to our God, who alone is faithful. May we all be daily strengthened to follow Him more closely.
Dianne L

Connie said...

So well written and so true. But by the Grace of God.....he is our strong point, our rock, our redeemer.

Anonymous said...

This goes right along with my week-end! Having just gone to a memorial service yesterday, for a friend who, younger than me by a few years, died suddenly and unexpectedly, and then hearing about a dear Pastor's wife who just passed on at close to 100 years old, got me to thinking, what kind of legacy am I leaving? What kind of legacy do I want to leave? Sometimes we have no idea how the choices we make from day to day will affect our life or others in our life. And the message this morning at my church about wanting to hear "Well done, My good and faithful servant" at the end of our lives.....It 's not just about us! Lots to ponder.....
Blessings to you!
Laura C. (WA)

Anonymous said...

Wow. . . this is an amazing post. Such truths to ponder. God has given you such a wonderful gift of words, Brenda. We all "fall and come short of the glory of God" but in His mercy he forgives and lifts us up if we come to Him in repentance and brokeneess. Thank you for your wise words today. Blessings, Sharon D.

Nanna Chel said...

I didn't know about the Schaeffer family situation. That is so sad. In the end it all comes down to our own relationship with the Lord and putting our trust in Him as others will often let us down and disappoint.

suzanne said...

Miss Brenda, your words about a legacy to leave behind tie in very well with your theme for the year..."focus." Because the only way to leave a lasting legacy of faith,,,and to finish the race, IS to focus on the One who leads the way. Beautiful and powerful post for our Sunday tea. thank you so much.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda; Sometimes, as we go about our days, tired and exhausted I sometimes think, will I ever hear The Lord Jesus say come in my good and faithful servant, I wonder if that day will ever come. So, I keep trying to do the best I can do each day, serving Him in the best way I know how. Is it worth it? Yes my friends, oh yes it is worth it!! With love and hugs, Nana

Barbara said...

Good post. You have put a lot of us to thinking about what is best. Thank you.

Stephanie Peter said...

Wow. Thank you so much for this beautiful post! You are so full of wisdom and so inspiring.

Heather LeFebvre said...

A friend and I are reading through a number of Edith's writings this year...and also looking a little at what Franky wrote. So very, very sad. Totally agree with him that his childhood was flawed (weren't all of ours?!! some more than others) but how very, very sad that it didn't cause him to cling to Christ but turned him the other way. Definitely praying that I will faithfully stay the course and keep my eyes on Christ!

Annabel said...

Two things I thought of as I read this... one was that it is a mystery that some people complain about their parents all their lives and others I have known who have had the most terrible childhoods you wouldnt think they could recover from grow up happy and grateful. The total opposite!
The other thing was my favourite author CS Lewis said that we dont have a soul. We are a soul. We have a body. He was one who never fell to scandal or anything! There are others I look to and hope will never fall into trouble. I read Franklin Grahams statement about current events today and it was wonderful. His Dad Billy has been wonderful too. I am grateful. Lovely post that was thought

Jan said...

You are always such an inspiration to me. You have given me so much to think about in the short time I've been reading your blog since I stumbled on it. Thank you for your insightful posts about simple living, constant reliance on God and this finishing well. Thanks. Keep up the inspiring work!