What Will They Say When You Leave?
Passage: Matthew 5:13-16
Key Verse: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” V. 16 (NASB)
The phone calls keep coming. There hardly is a day when she does not receive a call from someone whose life he touched. Someone whom he helped when no one was watching. Countless gestures that even his wife was unaware of. Almost five months have gone by since my brother-in-law’s death and we still hear stories of people he helped and lives that were touched, because he cared. We hear stories about time that he spent encouraging and coaching young men who were pursuing the dream that he had fulfilled as a racer and businessman.
Someone once told me that, in life, there are takers and there are givers. Donnie was a giver. His gospel was preached in gestures that are worth a thousand sermons. His quiet, yet funny demeanor and loving spirit filled my heart with the type of warmth that I miss so much from my own brother and sister, who live six thousand miles away. When he left, not only did he leave a void in our family that cannot be replaced. He left a legacy of love and generosity that will not be forgotten. His light shone through little and big things he did for both people he loved and even strangers who needed help and encouragement.
More than Fishers of Men
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus challenged His disciples to be fishers of men, which He reiterated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20.) We must indeed spread the gospel to a dying world and share the Good News of salvation with the lost. But in this passage, Jesus’ words pierce a little deeper into our spiritual makeup. Not only must we be good, we must DO good. Our light must so shine that we attract the lost (and yes, the saved!) to the Father.
I spent my childhood summer vacations at my grand-parents’ farm, which is located in a small fishermen village in South Brazil. The farm is by a breathtaking saltwater lake. One of the most beautiful scenery that I recall from those days was the sight of the lake at night. As you drove by on the interstate along the lake, the vision would fool any stranger to the area. One could swear that the lake was instead a village, filled with lights on the streets. Around 5 pm each day, our neighbors would come by grandma’s house, carrying their nets in large wicker baskets, along with a kerosene lamp that would go on the poles by their fishing site. One by one, the fishermen would set their trap to catch the fish. Giant nets, and a small kerosene lamp.
The fishermen in the village know it too well. The fish in that lake will not come, unless they are attracted by the light. No light, no fish. I just love God’s wisdom poured through Jesus’ teaching! Like fishermen, we cannot fish in the dark either. As a matter of fact, if our light does not shine wherever he plants us, the lost are more likely to flee, not flock to Him. Worse yet, if we talk a big game and yet our faith is not translated into action, even the people in our lives who know Jesus as their Savior may flee from Him.
I have seen it one too many times. Children of church goers (and even ministers) rebelling against the cross because their parents’ talk and their walk did not match. How many people cringe at the name of Jesus because they were exposed to self-righteous Christians, whose words did not translate into actions?
Walk as Children of Light!
“For For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” Ephesians 5:8 (NASB)
We should really take this light shining business seriously! Not only because it is Jesus’ commandment, but because the implications of having an unsavory and dim life are devastating to us, Christians. We can go to church every Sunday, serve in ten committees, sing in the choir and teach, but if we come home and make our family miserable because of attitudes that scream that we are walking in the flesh, we will push the fish swimming near our nets away from the Lord instead of closer to Him. And what great Jesus representative would I be at my job, if I had verses hanging all over my cube, but displayed a bad attitude with a co-worker or did a careless job. “Let your light so shine!” says the Savior!
What Will They Say When You Leave?
I was listening to this beautiful song when the words above pierced my heart. Between the cancer diagnostics early this year and the sudden loss of my brother-in-law, I have been challenged in the past several months with the reality that life is but a vapor. When life is over, everything that we strive so hard to acquire is left behind. But one thing, this one thing remains: the impact that you and I make in the lives we touch along the way. The gestures that show that we care. The times we wipe tears away and kiss the booboos. The I love you’s. The forgiveness we extend when someone hurts us. The smile that we offer when no one else seems to care. The prayers that we say for those who feel hopeless. These little beacons of light are the heritage our journey on earth will leave behind.
As this year comes to an end, I realize that this chapter of my life was written in a dark valley. This has been a difficult year for me and my family. However, during this time, I have learned many new things. I have developed more compassion for those who are hurting. I have learned to cherish each day with those I love as if tomorrow will never come. I have tripled my “I love you’s” and I have prayed for others like never before. I have developed a new passion for reaching people who need Jesus. And most of all, things that once were important in my life are so very superfluous today. I don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder, or to drive a new car, or to go on a fancy vacation. What matters to me is what legacy I will leave behind…
And although I have gotten used to say that it does not matter what people think about me, in a sense, I have decided that it does matter. For I hope that, every time I leave a room or ultimately, the day I leave this world, my life song will say that I cared. And that the world was a better place because I lived.
So, have you thought about it? What will people say when you leave?
That’s a good question. A good one indeed.