What You Leave Behind

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

            As this New Year begins we have the opportunity to look back at where we have been and also look forward to what lies in front of us.  Sometimes it can be a little uncomfortable to look back and go over some of the things that have happened.  It can also be a little unnerving to consider what lies ahead of us.

            This past week was a tough one for me.  I was asked to do the services for two people that I had known for years.  One died two days before Christmas and the other early on Christmas morning.  It was a tough time for the families as they walked through those services.  It will be tough as they go through the coming days.

            I recognize that these two families aren’t the only ones to face struggles such as this.  A quick look and you will find several other families that have recently encountered the death of a loved one in their lives.  These losses can truly be tough on the family as they seek to handle the change that comes to the family.

            Regardless of when a death occurs, it can make it difficult for the family.  They still want to hold to that person who died.  They want to hear their voice once again.  They want to have them share their experiences in life.

            I was asked to sing the special in our Sunday evening service.  I had worked on a song and only sang it at our Pampa Nursing Center service, but I decided that this would be the time when I would share it with our church family.

            The song is entitled – ‘Three Wooden Crosses’ by Randy Travis.  It has a great story from verse to verse, but it is the statement in the chorus that truly impacts me.  It says -- “It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it’s what you leave behind you when you go”

            In the song it speaks of ‘a farmer, teacher, hooker and a preacher.’  Each of them on a midnight bus headed for Mexico -- One for vacation, one for education and two for lost souls.  A wreck took place and there were three wooden crosses, with the question as to why there weren’t four.

            As the song closes we find that the preacher had placed a blood stained bible in the hooker’s hand which she read to her son, who God called to preach.  I tear up every time I get to the part where the preacher holds up that blood stained Bible.  The words then state that is why there were only three wooden crosses.

            As I consider that song, my heart is moved.  It is moved because of those who have gone through this life and in some way have raised up a ‘blood stained Bible’ before those they have left behind.  They have shown people the way to Christ by the love of Christ in their lives.

            For me there was my grandparents, my Dad, a pastor under whose preaching I surrendered to preach, a deacon that loved me and showed me how to love, plus many more that just gave of themselves to share the love of Christ with others.  My heart is thankful that they focused on what would be left behind with those they love.  I wish that I could say thank you to each of them for the wonderful gift they have left, but that will come later.

Then I think about Jesus.  He came into this world as a baby, lived His life and died on the cross for the sins of the world.  The day He died there were three wooden crosses.  Why weren’t there four?  Because He died for us so that we might live.

You see John 3:16 says -- 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John said it again in 1 John 4:10 -- 10 “Real love isn’t our love for God, but His love for us.  God sent His Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.”  (CEV)

What Jesus left behind when He left was His great love for us and a way for us to have life everlasting.  What we leave behind depends on how we respond to Him.  It is my prayer that when I leave this life that what I leave behind will point others to Christ.

What is it you will leave behind?  I pray it will be your own ‘blood stained Bible’, a life that points others to Jesus Christ.  Also, pray for those who have had a loved one die.  Pray for God’s peace to be in their lives.

JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, there IS something about that name!!

Christ only, always,

Bro. Paul