8-5-2017 Vision, Testimony, Legacy
My daily reading of “Men of Integrity” (MOI) produced today’s topic. MOI publishes a small booklet that covers a two month stretch. They pull from a different author each week bringing forth encouragement for men (that’s M-E-N) to follow Jesus a little bit closer than what they may have been. Hopefully into a closer relationship. Each author covers the week beginning with Monday going thru Sunday briefly setting forth excerpts from books they have published. The authors include men I’ve never even heard of before but traverses a spectrum which includes the likes of Dr. Billy Graham.
Terrence Chatmon has the current week’s reading and is president and CEO of “Fellowship of Companies for Christ Int’n’l”. He has published a book (2017) titled “Do Your Children Believe?”.
On Aug. 2, 2017, the entry was titled ‘Set Your Priorities’ in which he cites three questions he asked himself. Mr. Chatmon asks these questions concerning his family but I want to expand them to a broader spectrum maintaining our personal interaction with anything and everything around us. 1) What is your vision?, 2) What legacy do you want to leave?, & 3) if you died tomorrow, what is the one thing you would want to make sure you’ve accomplished?
Father said for me to boil to this down to “Vision”, “Testimony” and “Legacy”. These three concepts impact our personal life, our family and what ministry to which Father may call us.
The people perish where there is no vision but he who keeps the law is happy (Prov. 29:18).
Do we have a vision for our lives or are we just floundering around hoping to get things done? Where I have no vision for my personal life, like a fish washed up on the shore, I flop around in the sand. If I have no vision in which to guide my family, I cannot lead them in the way they should go and they shall be like a ship on which I am but not at the helm. If I cannot see God’s calling upon my life, it would be most difficult to help others in the way which they should go.
I can relate very well to this. About the fourth or fifth grade, I thought dinosaurs were the coolest thing around. Mom had bought me a couple at a local “five and dime” (do any of you remember what that is?). Each dinosaur had its name and length printed on its body or tail and I started collecting them every chance I could. By Jr. High School (a rough equivalent to Middle School for you younger generations) mom had started bringing me books on dinosaurs, paleontology and geology. Not a lot, but enough to keep my interest peaked. By the end of Jr Hi, I KNEW what I wanted to be – a paleontologist! No doubt, no questions asked I had my dream, my vision for the rest of my life. Move over Roy Chapman Andrews (noted paleontologist of the early 20th century, and as some say, was the man Indiana Jones was patterned after). However by the time I entered 12th grade, I had taken chemistry twice was only able to muster a “C”. I also knew that to follow a path in the sciences, I had to be strong in math, but I had not done even as well with math as I did with chemistry. I concluded that higher math and higher science in college was not going to be my bag.
My dream ended. My vision vanished.
And from then on, and for a very long time, I really didn’t have a vision for my life anymore. And I mean a very long time.
I’m basically a lifetime federal government employee. Nothing wrong with that, it just wasn’t very fulfilling. It wasn’t what I had really wanted to do. My dream had been shattered and I had no other vision for my life, but it earned me a living. I worked in the General Services Administration (GSA) motor pool for a while, but mostly in clerical and white color positions with Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and then Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from which I retired. I worked briefly as a mechanic ( 1 ½ years) and in building maintenance (@ 6 months) and in a lithographic print shop (@ 6 years) all with the government. I started off a file clerk ( @2 years), but I got my greatest growth experiences with the FDA, as I said from which I retired.
While working at FDA in a clerical position in a document room, I had to code documents for a preliminary designation. I had definitions by which I could accurately code a document routing to appropriate government reviewers. After several years, I found myself becoming disgruntled as I distinguished which documents I preferred to ‘process’ and as I was grumbling I felt a suggestion come into my spirit. “Give Me the job.” I knew who it was, after all I had been a Christian for nearly ten years AND had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Back in those days, I did more talking ‘at’ God, then with Him. And even though I wasn’t talking (2-way conversation) on a regular basis with Him, a thought would pop into my head or sometimes it was just a ‘feeling’, but was different, and I knew it was Him. So I sat back in my chair and said “OK. It’s yours.” And I did give it to Him. First thing He changed was my attitude and that began an upward spiral leading to job promotions and salary increases. This was the beginning of my preparation for the vision Father had set before me, which I wasn’t even yet aware at that time. Father prepared me to interface and train , confidently ranging from document clerks (which I had been) to office directors as well as interagency and international communications.
Father spent my whole life preparing me for the vision He had designed for me and He clued me as to what that vision is back in September 2014. At first I was skeptical and doubted my ability but by January 2015 Father had erased all doubt as to what He had called me to do. For He had been teaching me to know His voice and is still teaching me to observe things around me.
Father has shown me my vision, now my dilemma was how to get there. I had no bible schooling, to speak of other than Sunday School and personal reading, under my belt. Yet, I thought I knew the bible pretty good, but every time I would go through a passage, Father would show me how little I really knew. AND He still tweaks shows me greater depth to what He has already show me. But with no degrees or creditations I’m essentially a nobody. In the church, I had always been set aside, shut down or ignored – except for the jobs no one else wanted (learning humility?).
After two and a half years, today I have said to Father “I have no connections no ‘inroads’ to open doors, yet You tell me I am to go out and speak your word.” Father responded to me “I have given you the blog. Write what I tell you and I will open the doors.” So, as I write this, this is where I am at today. And oh yes, I am still growing. Father said I had some things I still needed to learn before He could set me out there and He will let me know when the time is right. And I’m doing what I can, sharing what He has given me to share.
So, now Father has given me a vision. And it isn’t paleontology.
No man lights a candle then hides it but puts it out where it can be plainly seen. The eye is the body’s light and when the eye is single, the whole body is filled with light (Luke 11:33-34).
How do others really see us? My testimony is how I apply my God-given vision into my life or should I say “How well do I apply what Father is teaching me?” Should I not be ‘living’ for Jesus, people might rightfully challenge “Are you ‘really’ saved?” When I am not following Jesus, I’m not the guiding force my family needs. I am not giving them the direction they require to be stable, abiding in peace. And those around me won’t pay much attention to what I say or do because my actions won’t back up my words. What IS my testimony to those around me?
So one important thing Father has been doing with me is solidifying my relationship with Him. Learning to apply more and more of what He shows me into my life. Teaching me how to trust Him more and more. He has me spending more time, not just in prayer, but in communion with me. For too many years, when I prayed, I told God what I wanted, what I needed and how ‘I’ felt. Then I said “Thank you very much, in the name of Jesus, Amen”. Samuel had to learn to know God’s voice (1 Sam. 3:1-10) and though I’ve heard God’s voice many times over the years of my life, it’s only been since Sept. 2014 Father has been teaching me to be more and more focused on what is Him and what is not. Early on I was very confused. Not so much anymore.
Jesus tells us that Father is the husbandman and He (Jesus) is the vine and we are the branches. We should abide in the vine and live for He sustains us (John 15:1-10) and as He does, we keep His commandment, reflecting Jesus’ love in our own lives (Rom. 8:29). We know that when we follow Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives (Gal. 5:22-26) and we walk in the Spirit desiring the things of God. The gifts of the Spirit also become evident, gaining more power and strength, as we draw closer to Him.
We are a continuing work in Jesus Christ and as we grow closer and closer to our Lord, our likeness to Him should become more and more evident to those around us.
Where am I at? That is not mine to say, but if you ever get the chance to meet me, you be the judge. I will only share something my daughter told me within the past year. We had been talking about how the ‘church ain’t actin’ like the church no mo’’. And my daughter was saying that is why most of her friends aren’t in a church anymore. But she made a statement that I shall always cherish. She told me that her friends say that I am the ‘real deal’. That affirmation is worth all the ‘tea in China’ or all the ‘gold in the Klondike’. The real deal means that they think I’m genuine, not a hypocrite. I am doing something right for my God and it is showing.
Our testimony is how others see us.
So, what is our testimony?
Are we building a foundation from which others can build? The house of a man who builds it upon a rock, when adversity comes, will stand for it has a solid foundation, but the house of he who builds it on sand has no foundation and the fall of that house will be great (Luke 6:48-49).
Many men endeavor to ‘leave a legacy’. Something which others may remember them ‘by’ or ‘for’, over generations to come. What they did. What they said. Most of us know who Mark Twain is, Alexander Graham Bell, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy. And these, along with others, we know their accomplishments, their legacy. But who remembers Mr. Joe Averageman (fictitious name)? Friends and family may remember Joe, but the world remembers Mark Twain and the others. But Joe? Joe who?
Our legacy? Where I’ve had no vision, my testimony will most likely have been weak and my life will impact only a few. But, such as it is, will it be good or will it be negative? Would I be known for something like Mark Twain? Or might I be remembered because my actions were like Al Capone? Will the ages know my name or will just family, friends and a couple of generations remember who I was? Will I be remembered at all? Somebody will remember me, at least for a while – but who and for what?
Any impact I may have on the world around me will most likely be minimal and likely soon forgotten. But nonetheless, I will leave a legacy, of some kind and the stronger the legacy the greater the memory, whether to many or just a few. By the grace of God I would that I be remembered as a “Man who loved Jesus” and touched the lives of others for His glory. Paul said it is better for me to be with the Lord than to be here on earth, however, it is more necessary for me to be here on earth than with the Lord (Phil. 1:20-26). Paul felt it more necessary to make sure followers had a legacy of love to follow than for him to go to the Lord. So he stayed and did what he could to help them.
I mentioned my daughter’s friends said I was the real deal. That is a legacy. Billy Graham’s legacy would be all the souls won for Christ. Kathryn Kuhlman’s would be all those Jesus healed through her ministry.
Our legacy could be for a single life whom the Lord used us to bring into His kingdom or helped along their journey. Our legacy could be bringing joy into people’s hearts. Our legacy could be the wisdom God imparts upon others through our ministry. We are a body and we each have our own unique gift or talent and Father will use that to touch the lives of others, no matter how few or how many. That is our legacy. Some of us may realize the reality of our legacy while we yet walk this earth or our legacy may not be realized until we have long been with the Lord.
Yet, as we said, we all will leave a legacy, good or bad so what is our legacy? How will we be remembered? For how we are remembered is our legacy.
It starts with a vision. With no vision we have no goals and that vision will die. With no vision we have no testimony for we aren’t working towards anything, but the goals within our vision become our good works and those works become our testimony. Our testimony becomes the memories which become our legacy. And our legacy is for whatever we are remembered. How we impacted the lives of others.
What legacy do we leave behind?