Maybe we don’t think about this question and all the questions it generates until we face the end of our life. Then the questions come quickly! What have I accomplished by my life? Have I been successful? Has my life made a difference? For whom? How do I want to be remembered? What legacy have I left behind? When people think of me after I’m gone, if they do, what will they think about? In general, what meaning does my life have?
As one who just went on hospice this week, I think I can speak to this topic with a far deeper insight than I could have done two weeks ago……
I’ve had a great life! My office walls contain many awards, commendations, mementos; three higher education degrees (a Bachelor of Arts and 2 Master’s degrees), Recently on my 80th birthday reception more than 100 people from all over Kansas showed up to celebrate with me. They included extended family, friends, colleagues in ministry, etc.–. I have enjoyed a wonderful loving and caring relationship with my wife Kay the past 4+ years. She has a deep love for God and a deep love for me that doesn’t stop when the going gets rough, as it is now. I am so blessed by her love. In my lifetime I’ve been able to travel to Russia and have memories and souvenirs from there, as well as traveling to Alaska and other parts of the U.S. I’ve had reasonably good health up to the last year which enabled me to remain active.. I’ve served many churches as pastor and earned from them the title I appreciate the most—pastor. I have awards in both education, including membership in the educational fraternity, Phi Delta Kappa and am listed in Who’s Who in Education. after 30+ years of teaching in high school and college. In Christian ministry I have the “Honored Minister’s pin: and am a “Minister Emeritus in the region of Kansas—-all highly significant awards.
But what I want to express here is my most important possession, although it is not really a possession. I am loved! I am loved by God; I am loved by my wife; I am loved by my children and grandchildren; I am loved by my step-children and step-grandchildren and by many of my former students and parishioners and by people I have worked with in both the regional church and the individual parishes I have served.
As I contemplate it, my life has been surrounded by love and all of the accomplishments that I could have made—-are all built around that LOVE. By the love and support I have received. Everything I have accomplished has been because someone loved and supported me. To give every instance as an example would be to write my biography. However, two of the accomplishments that I am most proud of that are built around love are my son and daughter. They came out of love for my first wife Dee, they were raised knowing that we loved them. I remember a conversation with them a few years back when I said—“you know we didn’t always do things right when we were raising you—-we made a lot of mistakes.” Their reply was that the mistakes were not that important to them now. What was important they said was that they always knew they were loved and we were there for them when they needed it. Both of these children are now independent, loving and caring individuals. They are an accomplishment of love.
The apostle Paul wrote in the 13th chapter of II Corinthians these well-known words. They apply so well to what I am truing to say:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love; I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love; I gain nothing…..
Put love at the center of your life. Give it and receive it freely. It is the most important possession that life can give you. Love is the source of all the meaningful accomplishments you make in life. THEY COME FROM LOVE FOR GOD AND LOVE FOR OTHERS. AND WHEN YOU PUT LOVE AT THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE YOU PUT GOD THERE BECAUSE GOD IS LOVE.