“Every man dies. Not every man truly lives.” – Braveheart 1995
“Why am I dying to live, if I’m just living to die” – Jonny Lang, Dying to Live: Long Time Coming album 2003
One of the most unfortunate aspects of our lives is that we often get caught up in the daily grind and we forget the “why” of how and why we live our lives. Time passes, complacency sets in and we forget about what drives us towards the success and goals we set out to find and accomplish. Getting so caught up in how we “manage to live” allows us to forget to live, and live to fullest. Our death is guaranteed, but a life lived well is not. Living life to the fullest is up to each and every one of us.
You will leave a legacy regardless of what you do. But how you are remembered depends on the way you are living right now and beyond. What are your choices and words, thoughts and behaviors saying about your life? When I was a kid and teen I went to church camp and I always saw those cheesy Christian shirts playing off of logos, jingles and slogans of businesses and brands. Such as, “A Bread Crumb and Fish” as opposed to “Abercrombie and Fitch”. I understood the message, but I always thought it was a little too goofy. However, there was one shirt that stuck with me and challenged me. The shirt said, “Live in such a way so the pastor does not have to lie at your funeral”.
My father and brother passed away when I was 7 years old. I grew up learning about both of them from other people who worked, went to school and were friends with. Part of me was very jealous of all of these people, and sometimes angry, but the older I got the more I realized how amazing it was so many people remembered both of them and had stories about the impact my dad and brother had on their lives. As I was growing up and learning about the people my dad and brother were, I was in the process of seeing their legacy come to life before my eyes and in my heart. They lived lives that mattered. They cared for people. They loved Jesus with all their heart and they were passionate and great friends. Their legacy lives on today and still has an impact because of the manner in which they chose to live their lives. I have such a drive to live where people get emotional and speak highly of me, even 20 years after I die.
One thing I remember from my dad’s funeral, and from hearing a few of his great friends, was how many people claimed my dad as their best friend. The pastor of the church my dad was serving at told me he kept meeting people at the funeral who would introduce themselves as “Jim’s best friend”. My pastor thought he was going to have to get into a few arguments, because he was “Jim’s best friend”. It is incredible to hear how so many people felt such a connection with my dad and felt as if he was their best friend. All in all, I think I have heard 5 different men tell me they were my dad’s best friend. What an amazing legacy!
My brother passed away when he was 18. On the drive from church to our house, we would pass a grocery store called “USave”. Jimmy, my brother, took the name quite literally and would say, “Hey, we need to go in their and tell people about Jesus so they can get saved!” He saw the name of the store and took it as an opportunity and commission from God to go in and share the Gospel with anyone and everyone. What an amazing legacy!
Death is inevitable and the time is unknown for each of us. We may not have control of the time we are called up to Heaven, but we do have control of what we do right now. My brother Jason used to write music and songs and was able to perform often when he was younger. One of the songs he wrote was called “The Dash”. My dad and brother, Jimmy, were the inspiration to this song. The only symbol that matters on our headstone is the dash, between the day of our birth and the day of our death. The dash symbolizes what we are remembered for. “All that matters is how you lived the dash.”
Because of the examples I have personally experienced in my life, I have thought often about what I want my legacy to be. If I want it to be a certain way, what do I need to be doing day in and day out to ensure my legacy is my own and honors God? I must always be aware because my life matters. What I do matters. What I say and how I act matters! Who knows what sort of impact I could have on a person’s life, and when I could! I don’t live for myself, I was bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:20), and it is not I who lives, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:19-20)! My legacy will reflect my Savior, and because of Him I can leave a legacy where people remember how I lived and how I loved. Can you say the same?
“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” (Another movie quote, sorry. “The Departed“). My challenge to you is to not let life happen to you. Instead, you happen to your life! Don’t be a thermometer, be a thermostat! We need to direct our life in order to make it matter and leave a lasting legacy. Ask yourself today, are you simply living to die, or are you dying to live? Ask yourself “why”. What drives you to strive and succeed? Without your why, you won’ have purpose. If you don’t have purpose, core values and goals to aim for, one day you’ll wake up and wonder where your life went. Today is the day, don’t wait! Ask yourself these 3 questions, take time thinking about the answers and then write them down. We have such a short amount of time on this earth and it may seem meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But, your life can have a lasting impact, even long after you’re gone. Eternities can be altered because of the choices and changes you make today.
- How do you want to be remembered?
- If you died today, what would people say at your funeral?
- What do you need to change, add or do in order to be remembered how you desire?
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