In the last few Saturday morning “Encouragement” posts we suggested it’s self-evident that the universe and all within it were created with order and precision. We also noted that you are not a mistake. You were created by God to overcome the challenges of this fallen world. In doing so, one learns to love and to trust God.
We know from the Bible that God created everything (Colossians 1:16), it’s God’s desire that all people come to know him in truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4), and that the overall purpose for mankind while on earth is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-39). We also know from Ephesians 2:10 that God created each of us with a specific purpose.
Relative to eternity, our time on this earth is very limited. Between working in a job to fulfill our basic needs, and perhaps falling in love, having children, and enjoying various pursuits and hobbies when and if we have the chance to do so, life can be very full. It’s often the case that as life draws near its end one looks back and wonders where all the time went. It’s also at this time of life when many individuals look back and wonder what it is they’ve accomplished other than just getting by. What, they wonder, will their legacy be?
Simply by being present on earth every individual has changed the world in some way. The image above shows a footprint. The individual who left that footprint changed the world. The mark would not be there if he or she had not walked that way. I suspect that as those for whom life on earth is drawing to a close look back, they hope they left more of a mark on earth than simply a few footprints.
In common usage one’s legacy refers to that which he or she has left behind for others, or how he or she will be remembered after death. We suggest that there can be no greater legacy than for one to discover the specific purpose for which he or she was placed on this earth, and to then fulfill it. This being the case, there can be no greater adventure, and no more thrilling quest than to make this discovery.
As noted above, we are all created to love God and to love others. This general purpose includes drawing near to God and placing the needs of others before our own. Living like this goes a long way toward fulfilling the overall purpose for our time on earth. And yet, there’s more to be discovered. God created you with a unique blend of gifts, talents, and abilities intended to honor him and to serve others. This unique and individual purpose is sometimes referred to as one’s “calling” in life.
A calling doesn’t have to be the basis for one’s career and it doesn’t necessarily have to impact many others. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 Paul encouraged followers of Christ to live a simple, quiet life as they love God and love others. As you seek to discover how to use your unique blend of gifts, talents, and abilities to serve others, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself with those around you or those in the news. Simply live your life drawing ever more near to God through the Bible, prayer, and fellowship, and look for opportunities to make use of the ways in which God has made you.
As I think about this, I’m reminded of several examples I’ve heard over the years in which a simple act of kindness or an encouraging word offered by a quiet individual at just the right moment dramatically changed another person’s life. The person who was changed then went on to have a profound impact on the world. You can often read accounts like this in the autobiographies of famous world leaders, business people, or sports legends. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the quiet individual known by no one or the famous person celebrated by millions. What counts is how you choose to use what God has given you and to thus fulfill your unique calling.
Many within the Panoplia.org community have found their calling in loving and trusting God, and in serving to protect others. There’s no question that this is a very high calling. In fact, one of the most famous Bible verses having to do with loving others points in this direction. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love always protects. The root word has the connotation of one individual covering another in order to protect him or her from harm. In a similar way, in John 15:13 Jesus is recorded as saying that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
No matter what your calling or specific purpose, it will always line up with loving God and loving others. For those of us who still have time to leave a legacy, let’s do all we can to discover how God has gifted us, and to use this to love him and to serve others. Doing so will ensure that you leave far more than a few footprints on some random patch of mud as your legacy.