Hungry to Leave a Legacy

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About a year ago, our family went on a trip to Washington, DC, to take in the historic sites and museums. One thing you cannot help but notice are the monuments to one historic figure after another: George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many more Each monument tells a story about the legacy of how those figures impacted the nation and generations of people.

We all hunger to leave a legacy with our lives in one form or another. Most of us may not aspire to constructing a monument to our personal legacy in Washington, DC, (let alone somewhere else) but we all still desire to leave a meaningful legacy with our lives. In Ecclesiastes, the Teacher says that God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In our hearts God has placed a sense of the eternal, and that sense of eternity connects with our hunger to endure and to leave something that endures after we die.

This hunger to leave a legacy is a gift from God, but it can be bent toward wrong ends. We all know the stories of someone who seems fixated on being important, being remembered, or being praised after death. Ironically, this prideful fixation on being remembered often makes a person sadly forgettable or humorously entertaining. The heart that is rightly ordered with God allows God to build His own legacy in our lives for His glory. As the Psalmist writes: “we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4).

In this week’s devotional we will explore how to leave a legacy in our lives that is neither prideful nor laughable, but honoring to God and His ways.

RESPOND THIS WEEK:
Each week’s practice will feature some aspect of the process Paul describes for us in Ephesians 4:22-24, where we are to TAKE OFF something from our lives that has become corrupted or distracting and PUT ON in its place something God wants us to do.

Take Off:Fast from social media, or some other place where you seek recognition from others, during this week. Choose not to post to your social media accounts this week or check your feeds.

Put On: Replace your time spent on social media with time listening to God. Ask Him to point out someone you can serve in secret this week. Plan a way to bless them in some tangible way.

[This a devotional I wrote with Jim Caler as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]

Hungry for Joy

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There is nothing quite like enjoying the beauty of a sunset or holding a newborn baby in your arms. To share that joy with another person doubles the joy as together we marvel at the beauty before us. Scripture speaks again and again of the gifts of joy, beauty, and pleasure that God gives us. The Psalms tell us that “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), and Job describes God as “the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 9:9-10). In Ecclesiastes, the Teacher describes the joy of human effort as a gift from God to humanity: “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).

In the New Testament, Jesus said that He came “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He is a joyful Savior who brings a joyful Kingdom. This is why the Apostle Paul writes: “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Our culture reflects this hunger for pleasure, beauty, and joy in many ways. Sometimes the cultural pursuit of joy unfortunately becomes self-centered due to the pervasive conviction that we can and should pursue whatever brings us joy, no matter the cost to others or society as a whole. That unchecked pursuit of joy often becomes an erratic pursuit of fleeting joy just beyond reach. Sometimes it becomes destructive to ourselves and others. At times, our hunger goes unsatisfied even when we experience pleasure and beauty. Why is that?

Could it be that true joy comes through the self-denying pathway of Jesus instead of the self-celebrating pathway of the world? Is it possible that we will only experience joy when our hunger for beauty, pleasure, and joy is rightly oriented toward the God who made us?

RESPOND THIS WEEK:
Each week’s practice will feature some aspect of the process Paul describes for us in Ephesians 4:22-24, where we are to TAKE OFF something from our lives that has become corrupted or distracting and PUT ON in its place something God wants us to do.

Take Off: What are the things you typically turn to for joy (e.g., hobbies, purchases, activities)? Which will you step away from this week in order to draw near to God and find joy in Him? Use the space below to take note of your experience this week.

Put On: Go outside this week to enjoy God’s creation: go on a hike, watch the sunrise or sunset, sit outside and enjoy natural beauty somewhere. If the weather doesn’t allow that, find a book or a website that will allow you to see nature in all of its created beauty. As you do that, take time to thank God for the amazing creativity He put into creation and the enjoyment He allows us to find in it. Use the space below to take note of your experience this week.

[This a devotional I wrote with Jim Caler as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]