What sort of record do we keep and pass on? Many of us have lived through tragic circumstances, whether as children or adults. There are many reasons that tragedy enters our lives. Tragedy may even occur at the hands of relatives or “close” friends. The scars may even remain no matter how long or hard we have tried to find forgiveness and to forget. The following is simply the example of one man’s story in the end of his days.
I once knew a man who may have been considered a “curmudgeon” or just a plain “grumpy old man” by the way he spoke. Some may have wondered why he was the way he was. I too may have walked away from any conversation with him shaking my head in dismay.
Though married with a pleasant wife and children you could not help but wonder if he had struggled as a youth or at some other time earlier in his life. Both he and his wife had been long time members of my church, but to me he seemed to have some rough edges. However, I have since wondered who amongst us doesn't, to one degree or another, have rough edges? Which of us doesn’t have problems? This man and his wife served as they were able in the congregation and that service was greatly appreciated!
One is reminded what the Apostle Paul stated: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 ESV throughout) The Apostle Paul, even after many years following his conversion, recognized he too had faults and shortcomings.
Each of us ultimately must come to the recognition that we fall short of Godly character and learn to submit to the Lord leading our lives "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:23)
Also, we are warned not to judge by the outward appearance. "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." (John 7:24) In 1 Peter 3:3 it also says, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward one of tressing of hair, and wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel…" This brings me back to the story about the man I once knew at church.
Setting a godly example
This “curmudgeon” who became my friend, eventually succumbed to a serious illness and in less than two months he died. Unfortunately, as in many cases, our lives become so busy we are not able to spend as much time as we should with those in such dire need. This was the case with me and the man I came to call my friend. It came to be known that as he approached his final days in hospice care facility, we learned that the staff cared greatly for him, as he was considered one of the kindest and gentlest men in their care.
This man was a devout believer in God and ultimately set a sterling example of godliness to so many who were with him daily, especially in his latter days. He set a magnificent example despite the agony and pain he had suffered in his earlier years.
All too often, even when we spend years around someone, we don’t know the true heart of a person. Each of us has good times and bad times that shape who we are, but we ought, though, to be as a light to a world which is stumbling in darkness. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)
Deuteronomy 31:8 says that, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." My friend took to heart what he learned in the scriptures and was prepared for “rest”. He did not feel forgotten and his actions at the end of his life demonstrated his deep beliefs.
As seen by the character of my friend, there are those who may seem rough on the outside, but inside their heart reveals a nature that reflects true Christian moorings. Joshua 1:6-9. “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
What legacy will we leave to our progeny and friends? Will we be remembered as a person of proper standards and examples, despite our frailty, our past tragedies, and human nature? As we see nations turning from God we should recognize there is a special need not only for national repentance, but personal repentance, responsibility and to persevere against strong adversity.
In the end, my friend set a high standard and example. If he could hear me I would say, "Thank you friend for your fine example and good report in the end of your days!"
For more on leaving a Godly legacy, read the free Bible study aid Making Life Work.