Everyone wants to have a legacy, something for which they’re remembered. You see it all the time with famous people like athletes, actors, musicians and politicians. They do what they do for a time in which they are surrounded by fame, but late in their careers, they start to wonder how they’ll be remembered.
A President of the United States, for example, may spend 6-7 years doing their job according to their philosophy of government, but then, in that last year to year and a half, suddenly they start to wonder how people will remember them and begin hedging their bets a little to leave a good taste in people’s mouths.
In the same way, musicians try to find that signature song, actors look for that memorable role and athletes suddenly start giving more interviews to reporters they’ve been snubbing for years. Everyone wants to be remembered well.
Even us “not so famous” folks think from time to time about how we’re being viewed by those around us.
I remember growing up as the son of a pastor and a teacher and thinking of myself as Rev. Shreffler and Mrs. Shreffler’s middle kid. I actually did a few things that people might have noticed, but even within my extended family, I was always Charles and Katherine’s son. It was OK; I always figured that my “turn” would come.
It never really did. In the span of just a few short years, I went from being Charles’ son to being Joey’s dad. For a few people, I was Margie’s husband, but to tell the truth, Margie didn’t get a much better deal than me. We were kind of a ‘tweener generation couple. That was OK, as well; we have always been pretty proud of our sons, so being Joey’s dad, Robbie’s parents or Drew’s mom was never much of a burden.
Of course, now I’m getting a little older (I know; you hadn’t noticed) and I’m no different from anyone else. I’m asking myself the same question everyone eventually asks themselves; “Have I really made a difference?”
It’s not that it really matters that much. As of yesterday, according to the World Population clock maintained by the U. S. Census Bureau, the world population is approximately 6,768,558,757. There’s no reasonable cause for me to assume that my impact on the planet will exceed that of any of the well over 7 billion lives with whom I have shared this ground.
Still, it would be nice to know that I’ve made some small difference, even if for only a few people and over a short span of time. You know what I mean, don’t you? I mean, I’m thinking you feel the same way.
My reading of Scripture brought me recently to the story of Daniel, again. I like to read about Daniel; his story is one of a man who stood up and made a difference, and I think most of us could really learn something from it.
But, I was caught this time by one specific thing that I had read many times, but never with the impact it had on me this time.
The story of Daniel tells us about a man who was caught up along with the rest of Israel in the Babylonian captivity. Removed from the country of his birth and brought into the household of Nebuchadnezzar along with other young men of promise, he served a succession of ruling kings without ever deserting his God.
In time, Darius (one of these kings) made Daniel a prominent ruler as a result of the quality of his service. Daniel became the target of evil men seeking to use his allegiance to his God as a way to separate him from the favor of Darius and, for a time, it appears to have worked.
Darius was convinced by these men to proclaim an edict that if anyone made petition to any god other than the king for 30 days, they would be seen as a traitor and sentenced to be thrown into the den of lions, a crude form of capital punishment. Darius, persuaded by his own vanity, signed this edict and gave it the force of law.
Daniel’s response to this edict was to simply continue to pray to God and allow himself to be dragged before the king for punishment. Darius was distressed by this outcome, but he had painted himself into a corner. Daniel was sentenced to go into the lion’s den, but it was Darius who said, “Your God will deliver you.”
You know this story. God Himself closed the mouths of those lions He had created and over whom He was sovereign. There is no coincidence here. Scripture says that Darius, the king who had sentenced Daniel to this punishment, went back to the palace and fasted. Listen, God does not act in our circumstances except in response to our yielded will to Him. You know that Daniel prayed; that’s what got him into this mess. But, so did Darius.
And, in the morning, Daniel was brought out from his “punishment,” a restful night among God’s creatures, to a complete exoneration.
Look at these verses, found in Daniel 6: 25-27, in The Message:
King Darius published this proclamation to every race, color, and creed on earth:
Peace to you! Abundant peace!
I decree that Daniel’s God shall be worshiped and feared
in all parts of my kingdom.
He is the living God, world without end. His kingdom
His rule continues eternally.
He is a savior and rescuer.
He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from the power of the lions.
So, another great Bible story comes to a good end? Nope; look again.
This is a proclamation to the entire earth from the guy who was the current strongest military leader known at the time. He was giving credit to God for His evidenced power. But, look at the way he identifies God.
He is the “God of Daniel.”
Listen, Daniel never did anything for his own credit. He always gave credit to his God. And the entire earth came to know Him as the God of Daniel.
I don’t expect to ever be famous. I don’t have any reason to believe that I’m just about to do something that men will always remember.
But, every day I walk this earth, I do have impact on the people with whom I come in contact. It can be a positive impact or negative. I want it to be positive, but not to my own credit.
If I’m going to really make a difference in the lives of the people I meet and influence, it will only be because God is working through me. And, He does. I get opportunities every day to make a difference, if I’ll take them, and bring my heavenly Father into the circumstances of my life.
I can work with kids on a baseball team, and their parents. I can be there for the employees of the company where I serve as a corporate chaplain. I can visit the sick, speak words of freedom to people imprisoned by the chains of this world and act to improve the lives of the needy around me. I can do all those things, and you can do things just like them.
And, if we do all these things in God’s name and hold him up in front of us, we WILL make a difference.
People may not remember us, but they will remember the impact of our God in action around them.
I do not aspire for Pastor Joe to be remembered, but I DO want people to remember the God of Pastor Joe, and many of them are only ever going to see Him through me.
Will people see Him through you?
Let them remember the God of YOU!
Always praying for you, I am….
Your Older Brother,