Something happens when someone dies. For the majority of my life, in reflecting on death there was pain, sorrow, even silence. An astute stagnancy that I could never seem to digest or comprehend.
The first time I can remember really understanding what was going on was in 2010 when my Grandfather passed away. It was quiet. It was reflective on a man who loved Jesus and was probably caught singing “Soon and Very Soon” the moment his feet hit the floor in eternity.
The most recent deaths in my family hit me deeply. On the outside, it may not make much sense. I’ve known my father-in-law’s parents a very short amount of years. But something about their love hit me deep. There’s something about a life lived with unconditional love that changes perspective radically. Something about their insanely rich and Godly legacy has stopped me silent before the throne of God fumbling with the question “What am I leaving behind?”
Writing is all I have ever done to sort through what is in front on me. Even these words that I choose so carefully cannot compare to the legacy that will trail me when my time here is over. The story will be written. And most of it without the effort of my pen, a clicking keyboard, or assortment of pictures.
The thing about these lives that were laid out before me is how different they were to the lives of people I saw growing up. There was no talk of the family fortune left to the children. No talk of the family business built up from sweat and tears. No talk of the cars and china from some other country.
There were stories. There were smiles. There was laughter. Reminiscing about a life and marriage filled with the grace and abundance of Jesus. All I could see was Jesus and a constant choice to serve in marriage and family. I don’t know what it looked like all the time from the inside…but from where I stood there just was overwhelming waves of God’s grace and unconditional love.
This is a jaw dropping and uncomfortable place to be. I secretly prayed to see this for years. I suppose at times I even pleaded with God. I just wanted to see a glimpse and understand what could move someone to drop their own agenda. But to see it, and suddenly realize this is what I have been called to do by choosing to follow Jesus… it’s just not what I expected.
Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.”
It’s in these moments you realize how much you live for yourself. It becomes surprisingly loud. But in one of these times and moments at some point, guilt will no longer be the judge and ruling factor. A clear conviction comes and waves over you with grace, not condemnation.
At some point because of God’s great love over your entire life, you will just want to be better because He is amazing. The promises and pleadings I made with Him in prayer at 17 are utterances He has never forgotten even when I have wanted to erase or take back something I’ve laid down.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”
I’ve not only asked God to take it (whatever is in front of me) away three times. I’ve begged, pleaded and screamed thousands of times just to come back to the resounding power of His endless grace and love.
I’m not going to make something out of this life. For too long I have thought this life is something that is mine. But you can’t take an author’s name off his writings and put your own name in place. I may have been wrong for a while. I may be wrong for a lifetime. But I know He can cover it with all that He is.
I can’t keep living life on the gift that’s been given to me. I have to start giving and serving so that gift doesn’t return empty.
The legacy worth leaving had nothing to do with me to begin with.