Saturday, May 23, 2020

After Life: Legacy of the Fallen

Photo by Robert Lawton 2006

On Memorial Day, the United States honors the ultimate sacrifice of our military who lost their lives defending our nation. After their life has passed, we remember their legacy, long after they have passed into eternity.
The concept of afterlife differs among various religions. To the born-again Christian (John 3:3-8) who has trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), it is the promise of abundant, eternal life with Him and our loved ones in Him (John 3:16; 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We will forever enjoy His light and love in our glorified bodies that will never die, age, sin, or experience sickness, pain, or sorrow (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
He is even now preparing a special mansion for each of us (John 14:1-3) in an unimaginably beautiful City with streets of gold and gates of pearl (Revelation 21:2, 10-27). His rule and reign will be marked by perfect justice, peace and love (Isaiah 9:6). Each of us who trusted Him will have a position of some responsibility based on works we did for Him on earth, if we did them with the right motive of gratitude and love for Him (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
But when our earthly life comes to an end, and Christ takes us home to be with Him, the words “after life” also take on a second meaning. The United States holiday of Veterans Day honors and thanks our military for their faithful service in protecting our nation and the freedoms it represents. On Memorial Day, we especially remember those military who paid the ultimate price for our freedom by laying down their lives for us. 
The after life of these veterans who died protecting us includes that legacy of the greatest love of all – sacrificing one’s own earthly life for the sake of others (John 15:13). Their love speaks to us even from the grave, just as the righteousness and obedience of Abel still speak to us millennia after his death (Hebrews 11:4), What will be our legacy for those we leave behind? What will remain of us here on earth, and what impact will it have? 
Many are concerned about their financial legacy, and certainly it is important to provide for those dependent on our income, to the extent we can. Even if our loved ones are grown and self-sufficient, we may take pleasure in leaving them an inheritance. They may use that gift not only as a reminder of our love, but perhaps to carry on a work we started, whether it be giving to the church, to missions, or to further God’s kingdom in other ways. 
Even more important than our financial legacy is the impact we had on others, for good or for bad, during this life. Did we lead people to the Lord through our witness, lifestyle, and love? Or did we give them an excuse to reject Him because of our hypocrisy, indifference, or hate? 
Did we encourage the brethren and those in church leadership (Romans 13:1-8; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18) by kind words and deeds, sharing Scripture verses relevant to their trials, and thanking and praising them for their service? Or did we discourage them by being the first to complain and the last to volunteer, give, or even show up? 
What kind of example were we to our children and to young people who followed after us? Did we nurture them in God’s Word, ways, and love, or take out our own frustrations and anger on them? (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21) Did we show them the importance of Bible reading, prayer, church, and obedience to God’s laws in our own lives (Proverbs 22:6; Psalm 119:105), or did we ask them to do as we say, not as we do? Did we just drop them off at church while we pursued interests that were more important to us, or did we even take them to church at all? 
What we do in this life determines the quality of the after life we leave behind – the footprint, for good or for evil, affecting our descendants. Timothy, the apostle Paul’s protégé, followed the sincere faith instilled in him by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). I was blessed to be raised in part by a Godly grandmother who was a great role model of faith, giving, love, and prayer, reminding me of the Proverbs 31 woman. 
We can gift our children and grandchildren with a spiritual inheritance of God’s mercy and righteousness (Psalm 103:17-18). If we obey God and trust in His Son, He will preserve our Godly legacy for our children’s benefit (Joshua 14:9). We cannot ensure that our descendants make a personal decision to follow Christ, but we are promised that if we train them in His ways, they will not turn from them in their old age (Proverbs 22:6). 
In the book of Acts, Luke tells us about Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, a sister in the faith who was beloved by all because of her good deeds and charitable giving. Her ministry consisted of using her God-given talents of sewing and clothing design to fashion coats and other garments for the widows. When she died, all those who loved her wept and sent for Peter, who prayed and raised her from the dead! (Acts 9:36-42). 
By virtue of her industry and charity during her life, Tabitha’s after life was one of thankful remembrance by all those she had helped, for she had been a faithful steward (1 Corinthians 4:2). But God answers prayers exceedingly abundantly (Ephesians 3:20) beyond what we could ever imagine or think! In this case, He answered Peter’s prayer by raising Tabitha from the dead, actually giving her a second life on earth after the life she had already lived! 
Even better, Tabitha’s legacy, or after life, continued, because many who heard of this miracle came to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! So Tabitha’s after life was not only her legacy of giving and caring, and not only her restoration to earthly life, but her eternal reward she enjoyed by playing a part in leading others to the Lord! 
The apostle Paul tells us that any Gospel seeds we sow in the lives of those who ultimately trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will not only change their eternal destiny, but will bless us with the eternal reward of the soulwinner’s crown, or crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Those who are saved will in turn sow seeds in the lives of others, which may be a part of our after life long after we no longer walk this earth. 
What will be our after life? May His light shine through us during our earthly life (Matthew 5:16), so that our after life blesses not only those who knew us, but all those who feel the ripples of love emanating from our spiritual legacy! 
© 2017 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Yes, I fully agree, as Jesus himself had instructed us to allow our lights to shine before other men so that they may glorify our Father in Heaven, Matthew 5:16.
I take it to mean whenever a man brings glory to God, he is converted and receives the new birth.
Yet Jesus himself was the Light of the World (John 9:5). Therefore the whole of Israel should have accepted him and acknowledged him as their Messiah. Instead, they cried out to a Roman governor to have him crucified. The Jews in particular also rejected Paul's testimony as well.
Indeed, I would love it if everyone who comes into contact with me is born again!
But rather than feel discouraged at the apparent lack of fruit, I have a hope that in one way or another, a seed is sown in their hearts as a result of my testimony.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Praise God that He is the light of the world, and that He allows His light to shine through us. I sometimes share your discouragement that there is seldom any tangible effect of my ministry. But then I remember that I myself was saved through the testimony of an evangelist I met on a train, decades before I actually trusted Christ. He left at his train stop no doubt discouraged at the many arguments I gave him in my stubborn rejection of Christ. But his sowing was not in vain, and bore fruit many decades later.
So keep fighting the good fight through your blog and in other ways, and you will be rewarded in glory by meeting those you brought closer to Christ, and by hearing Him say, "Well done!"
God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie, I may have shared this with you before, but my lovely dad who I only had for eleven years of my life, was the best dad I could have had. When me and my siblings used to argue and we used to say 'Dad, dad, who is right?' He used to get his Bible and say 'Well let's see what the Lord says.' He always found scripture that taught us something. Although I went haywire in my teens, and did not become born again of God's Holy Spirit until later, what my dad taught me was remembered as I came to the Lord. It reminds me of the scripture' Teach a child the way it should go and it will remember it when it gets older. ' Without my experience of going haywire in my teens I would have no understanding of what others experience. If we have empathy we have sympathy and do not judge. Lovely post Laurie, God bless you for sharing.

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great Post, Laurie.

Many try to plan out their Legacy, never realizing that it is determined by everything they do, rather than the special things. Most of those soldiers were not worried about their legacy, but about protecting their country and family. We are not likely to be remembered for our heroic actions, but for our day to day service for God.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Brenda,
You are truly blessed to have such a Godly legacy from your father! What a blessing to know that Scripture promises that children will return to the Lord, if they are taught His Word from an early age.
Thanks as always for sharing you experience and your encouragement. God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Donald! Great point -- if we do what we do because it is right, and not to impress others, we will automatically be building a Godly legacy. Men may remember our deeds that seem important in terms of worldly values, but what really matters is how God views our actions and rewards us accordingly.
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

God bless and stay safe.