I keep a spreadsheet that lists books I’ve read going back many years, but I can’t remember a lot of specifics about most of them. I value reading more than I know how to explain but the value from reading doesn’t typically come from what I can remember years later. Rather it comes from how what I read influences me in the moment, helping me think or by shaping my character. I want to pass along a passion to first engage with scripture, of course that is first. But we also need to be challenged and helped by others. Few would claim they don’t need help. Reading is a way that can happen.
However, I do remember an exercise that helped me with setting goals that I was prompted toward in a book I read about 20 years ago. I think it was the Steven Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This is how I remember the exercise, “Imagine your funeral. Imagine the people who would be present: spouse, children, family, friends, and co-workers. Then write out what you would want them to be able to say about you.” I did that then and what I wrote is somewhere in my office, but I’ve made a new attempt at writing what I would want my kids to be able to say about me:
Dad loved God and he loved us. He demonstrated a life of commitment to Jesus that influenced lots of people but what is more important for you to know is that he was the same guy at home that other people saw everywhere else. He wasn’t perfect, but he was real. He feared God as the scripture describes it and that reverence was real in him in such a way that it was infectious. The long-term affect was that it made us want to know God as well. Those of us who knew him the best and saw him at his best and his worst, know that he responded to those worst moments in confession and repentance and brokenness in such a way that it made you know that he worshipped a God who is real, and the full effect of his life up close was to draw people to want to love and follow God as well.
I’m not claiming they could say such things, its just what I long to be true. What about you? Whether you are or young or old, single or married, parent or not, this is a question everyone needs to answer, "where are you going and who are you taking with you?? I’m not talking specifically about heaven and hell, though that’s a part of it. What can dig into our souls so that we care about our the long-term influence of our lives all the time? Joshua 24 contains the story of the end of Joshua’s life. A close examination of it will help you see the end of your life from the beginning in such a way that can explode apathy and help you focus on eternal influence. You can see the outline and discussion questions for Sunday’s message at Bethany Place where I will preach from this text here.