Loss is a strange thing. It comes in many shapes. Many forms. It can be a physical loss, an emotional loss, or a loss that brings about great depths of humility. It can be second-hand, observed from a distance or experienced first hand, personal and devastating.
Regardless of its form or proximity to us, loss tends to leave a mark. It changes us.
Sunday night, our community and church lost a brave woman named Manda. She fought cancer three times in her lifetime, and as tempting as it is to say the cancer won in the end, it didn’t.
And cancer lost. It no longer claims Manda as it’s victim. She is whole and healed and praising the God who made her. She knows no more pain or sorrow or grief. No more medicine. No more cancer. No more hurt.
All she knows now is Jesus.
I didn’t know Manda well. We spent some time together over the years through mutual friends, church and sports, but I know OF Manda very well, as she left an amazing legacy. A legacy, by definition, is a thing handed down by a predecessor. It’s a by-product. A gift. An effect. A result.
The result of a life well lived, not for self, but for Christ, is one of selflessness, the furthering of the good news of the gospel, loving Christ well and loving and serving others well. Manda left a legacy. She left a legacy of faith and commitment and passion for Jesus and His gospel. She left a legacy of kindness and compassion, sacrifice and service. She left a legacy of grit and fight and a spirit that never gave up. She left a legacy of motherhood and a love for her children that urged her on to fight past the point where most would have given up. She left a legacy of hope and one that resulted in her ultimate healing.
I Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
I’ve thought about loss and legacy a lot the past few years, as my dad has fought and continues to fight a terminal disease. The result of his life, even now, is that more people know Christ as a by-product of his faithfulness than they would have had he not boldly spoken the truth of the gospel of Jesus. My dad took that message around the world, and left knee prints in the carpet of the house I grew up in after hours spent there in prayer. My dad has made and will leave a legacy of a life that mattered for eternity.
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
When I think about my life, I often think in terms of the legacy I will leave behind. I know this is heavy, and not always something we like to think about, but it’s important. How deep do we allow our minds to go? Do we think and ponder these deep and hard life things to the point that we change? I hope so. Because it takes going to the deep and hard places, chiseling away at what doesn’t belong, to bring about lasting change.
I don’t want my legacy to be shallow. I want the roots of my life to go deep into the ground, resulting in colorful and nutritious fruit. It’s not about money or success or prestige. Climbing the ladder or hitting the goals. Because somehow, when we experience or witness loss, those things become so very trivial and we begin to think a little deeper.
Loss should make us take action.
Mend the broken friendship. Go to counseling to heal the marriage. Engage more with your kids. Go to the hard places of your soul and allow God to refine you. Carry the truth of the gospel to the hidden places around the world, and across the street. Love on the least of these. Give. Serve. Have a heart that loves people regardless of the differences in religious or political views. Lay down your guard. Lay down your judgements. Love God. Love others.
Leave a legacy.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust Him.” Psalm 91:2
I want to leave a footprint in the cement, not in the sand. One that matters. One that doesn’t get washed away by the tide but that leaves a lasting impression. A legacy that points to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Our healer. Our creator and our father. Our savior and friend. Who is sovereign over all He does. He does not make mistakes. Ever. Manda’s life was not a mistake, nor her death a surprise to Him. It had absolute purpose. As does mine, and yours. Our lives matter and are but a blink. Let’s make them count friends. Let’s leave a lasting impression on this world.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13