In 1988, Jim was a professor at the seminary and was asked to become the interim preacher for First Baptist Midland. He flew out each weekend to preach on Sundays.
Eventually, the kids and I traveled to Midland with him. My oldest son, Ryan, was two at the time and Craig was three months old. Each Friday, I would pack up our stuff and we would pick Jim up in Fort Worth to make the six-hour road trip to West Texas.
Our drive to Midland this past weekend brought back a lot of memories.
We talked about those earlier weekend trips with babies and realized that, to many people, it might have seemed like a crazy thing to do. But we enjoyed being together, even in the car. The speed limit was 55 mph back in those days, and I sure would have enjoyed today’s faster limits!
The first time I saw Midland I was kind of shocked. At first glance, West Texas looks like God grew weary while creating the world and decided to just leave that part of the state simple. I remember when we came over a hill and could spot the tallest buildings of Midland seemingly rising out of the barren dust.
I asked Jim, “Who would choose to live here?”
About a year later, we did.
A strong city and a strong people
Midland sits in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by land with a LOT of oil. The church we served is in the middle of town and has always been a blessing to that city. In many ways, FBC Midland is the strongest church we ever served.
The church is like the city: diverse in every way, yet unified by their faith.
It was our joy to be with people we admired thirty-six years ago and still admire today. Our friends look the same, just older. We were there to speak at a senior adult conference. Even as I was speaking, I saw the faces of people who had blessed us as a young couple and continue to bless us today. In many ways, that church helped me grow in my faith and in the right direction for ministry.
As I sit here typing today, I wonder who will say I helped them do the same.
I’m in or close to the “final quarter” of my life. As I looked at the faces of so many people I admire, I wanted to finish my life as well as they are finishing theirs.
A psalm of legacy
I used a verse from Psalm 71 in my message at the retreat. I’m sure I’ve read this psalm before, but it meant a lot to me this time. I hope you will take a moment to read the entire psalm. It is rich, especially as you consider what kind of legacy you want to live and, one day, leave.
The psalm was likely written by King Solomon for and about his dad, King David. David’s life was difficult in his latter years. His children fought him for his throne. David wasn’t perfect, but he deserved their honor rather than their prideful opposition.
David is described in Scripture as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). With all of David’s great accomplishments, he is remembered as a person who sought to know, love, and serve God.
What if each of us made King David’s legacy our goal as well?
Why was David a man after God’s own heart?
The answer could be in the words of Psalm 71. Verse 3 describes the relationship he had with the Lord: “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:3).
David had a kingdom that was called to serve him. Yet David’s trust was in the Lord, not his earthly power.
If we consider all the things that give us our sense of security, is God at the top of the list?
A legacy of trusting God and investing in others
As I studied the faces and the lives of so many friends in our Midland congregation, I was left with a strong impression of what I want for my own life.
They are older, wiser, and remain people who have led a consistent faith walk with their Lord. They are still the same people we knew thirty-six years ago. They blessed me then as a young pastor’s wife and they blessed me last weekend. I am grateful to God for giving my family such a strong example of faith, and I hope I will be to others what they have been for me.
In my message I used Psalm 71:18: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
We will all leave a legacy of some kind. Shouldn’t we consider what we want that legacy to be?
We will be remembered for who we eventually became or for who we chose to become.
David chose his legacy. He had a plan. He wanted to live a consistent faith throughout his life. In addition to being a man of faith, he wanted to help the next generation know his God as well. He wanted to “proclaim” God’s might to the next generation.
The need for wisdom
I am currently working on a project that will launch in January. Our ministry studies the culture and tries to help people respond biblically.
The internet has changed the world and that change will be even more dramatic in the days ahead. It is rare to go anywhere and not view people absorbed by their phones or other technology. We do not lack information and influence from all directions. I often say, “In a sea of information, wisdom matters.”
Wisdom is knowing what to do with what we know. Without that important step, all we have is information. We cannot know the power of God if we only “know” God has power. We have to rely on God’s power to truly understand his might. King David learned to trust God’s strength early in his life. That’s why he could face a giant with just a slingshot and stones.
David’s legacy began with his trusting submission to the power of God. His failures in life happened when he was influenced by other things. I would say the same of my own life, wouldn’t you?
Proclaim his might to the next generation
We all have a calling from God. We need to put feet to our faith and words to our wisdom. Most wisdom is born of experience, and God’s wisdom is a gift to those who will ask him for it (James 1:5–6).
We are called to invest in the coming generations. As I studied the faces of all those people who invested in a young pastor and his wife, I was filled with gratitude to them and God. I wondered who I might have become without their help. I had a LOT of growing to do when I arrived at that church, and they helped point me in the right directions.
I want to leave that legacy of faith with others, don’t you?
What would our witness to others be like if we made King David’s commitment our own? “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
Let’s live to carry on the legacy we have learned from the godly people we have known.
No matter how old you are, that is a worthy goal.