Legacy is important to me. What is following me around while I’m alive and what trails behind me when I pass away is something I think about often.
But I can’t talk about this passage as a participator until I first talk about it as a benefactor. Here’s what I mean.
When I take a moment to look behind me, I’m blown away at the sheer goodness God has shown me over the years. My life has been so good! The family I was born into, the nation that I live in, the one city that I grew up in, the one school I went to from K-12, the siblings I have (1 brother and 2 sisters) that are all in ministry to this day, a Dad and Mom that have stayed together and raised us to be selfless servants of others, the provision of God in times of poverty growing up, the opportunity to live right on Lake Ontario and take in the most gorgeous sunsets on a weekly basis, the opportunity I was given at an early age to accept Christ as my Savior, the formative years of my life being trained to love God and love others, the protection of God in my adolescence when it would have been easy to fall to temptation, the abilities God gave me athletically to excel in sports, the great job at a fruit farm I started when I was 12 and worked at until I was 20, the home we grew up on in the country where I could enjoy the wonder of the woods, the blessing of never going without food and having a mom that could cook the backside off a steer.
Going to college and meeting a nucleus of friends that shaped my confidence in Christ, finding the girl of my dreams two months into my freshman year and marrying her 4 years later, graduating with a 4-year bachelors’ degree at college with very little debt because of gifts and grants that seemed to be unfairly dished out to me when others all around me seemed equally needy and qualified, being chosen to give my kidney to my younger sister after I graduated college…a kidney that is still working inside her almost 16 years later, being hired as a youth pastor right after my honeymoon and finding a loving community of faith in Bellefontaine to cut my teeth in ministry, having great friends in that church that shaped my longings and passions, moving to Michigan and joining a church plant in Lowell called Impact where I met an amazing band of Christ-followers to challenge me in the next leg of my spiritual journey…oh, I could go on and on, trust me.
I’ve been given no less than five cars in the last 15 years, one of them was a brand new 2008 Impala that I found in my driveway when I got home from church 4 years ago. It had 8 miles on it! I’ve often opened the mailbox to find an envelope filled with cash or a check coming just in the nick of time to meet an overwhelming need. I have had opportunities to speak in front of thousands and thousands of people sharing my stories and motivating them with the compelling person and cause of Christ, I am actually paid to serve Jesus in the world…a privilege that is matchless bringing me joy that is boundless. And I get to live this life with a beautiful wife and three lovely daughters the Lord has entrusted to us. Even thinking about their births gets me choked up because we almost lost our youngest since she was born very premature, but God sheltered us from the storm and poured out his goodness and mercy on us by the bucket-loads. Not only am I blessed with 3 charming little girls, but God has recently opened the door for us to adopt two young boys under 3 years old from Ethiopia by the names of Joshua and Caleb. We would have never been able to afford it had we not been tipped off to a business man in Texas that offers one grant a year to a family who is wanting to adopt. After Heidi filled out an application for the grant, they not only gave us the finances to adopt one, but told us that if we wanted to adopt two, they would pay for a second adoption as well. Blessing upon blessing, heaped one upon the other like bails of hay in burgeoning barn. Counting the blessings is impossible; I haven’t the room to recount the goodness and mercy that has followed me all the days of my life.
I am truly a benefactor.
But I also look at this passage and I see an opportunity to make a decision about what I want left in in my life's wake. I can walk around and kick up the dust of discouragement and negativity really easily. Wherever I go gloom and doom could follow my every footprint leaving a stained imprint on people’s souls. My mom always used to say whenever we went to someone’s house, “Leave the place better than you found it”. I’ve never forgotten that. It seems like that phrase applies perfectly to the homestretch of this Psalm 23 passage.
When you live, may it be mercy that you’re known for. Forgiveness. Second chances. Grace to the ones you meet. When you live, may it be goodness that motivates your every move, not pride or vain glory or selfish ambitions. No, let your live be honest to goodness through and through. When you walk out of a room may the aroma of goodness linger in your absence, mercy hovering in the air like the smell of fresh baked bread. It’s possible to live in such a way that goodness and mercy are following you like the shadow of Peter healing people as he passed them by.
Goodness and mercy heal people.
And whether you know it or not, if you turned around and looked for it you’d see that there hasn’t been a day of your life that mercy and goodness haven’t been tracking you. And these beautiful sightings are signs pointing us to the life we really, really want reminding us to give as we’ve received.
Where would I be without God’s goodness and mercy following my every step?
What kind of legacy could I leave if goodness and mercy flowed with my every step?
“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me.”