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Monday, April 19, 2010

Leaving a Legacy

Psalm 119:105-112 (NIV)  "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.  I have suffered much; preserve my life, LORD, according to your word.   Accept, LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.  Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.  The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.  Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.   My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end."

There are times in our life when it seems like the pathway we are on is covered in darkness and the way just does not seem clear to us. The twists and turns of life’s circumstances present obstacles for our safe passage, trying to trip us up at every opportunity. David knew something about dark times. He spent the first months after being anointed the new King of Israel on the run from the then reigning King Saul. His life was a series of ups-and-downs that would have made the majority of people just throw in the towel and walk away from it all.

He spent months in service to Saul – playing sweet melodies on his stringed instrument, trying to calm King Saul whenever a fit of rage would come over him. Saul would launch into one of his “fits of anger” and do everything in his power to kill David, yet David served and honored him as the King of Israel, appointed by the hand of God. Even when he was forced to flee for his life, hiding in caves and living off the land, David would not touch the anointed of God. He had every right to the throne himself – he had been anointed as the successor to the throne. He could have rightfully “taken” the throne, but he waited on God’s timing, God's plan, and God's protection.

In that time of waiting, his path may have seemed a little “dark” and riddled with all kinds of opportunities to get “tripped up” along the way. David had something that kept him focused and secure in his times of trial. He was committed to God’s plan for his life during his waiting to take the throne as the next King of Israel, and throughout his entire reign when times of deep emotional pain and loss swept over him with the loss of close companions, the treachery of betrayal by those he loved dearly, and the agony of his own family dysfunction - David had learned that God’s Word had a “keeping” and "illuminating" power that no other source could provide.

It was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. A lamp in Biblical times was a simple device, often made of clay, which contained a little oil and a simple hemp wick. The little lamp would often have a handle, small spout from which the wick would protrude, and a small reservoir for the oil. It provided illumination about as bright as would illuminate the size of an average bedroom in a house built today. It did not function to illuminate far off – not like a spotlight or a high beam on your car. It was for the immediate place in which you were standing at that very moment. The Word of God gave David the illumination for where he was at the very moment he needed it. It lit up his path, step-by-step, carefully outlining every perfectly orchestrated turn he was to make.

I think David was a regular guy, just like you and I. He struggled with the regular stuff of life, like jealousy, fear, rejection, and lust. He knew hardship, and he enjoyed good times. He was up one day, down the next. His friends were there for him one moment, and then gone the next. He suffered the loss of an infant son and endured the pain of rebellious teenagers. He was a regular guy, taking his life into his own hands over-and-over again, believing he knew the next steps to take, only to fall flat on his face when his way didn't work out as he planned. One of his great strengths as recorded in Scripture was his ability to acknowledge his failures to trust God.  When he struggled with his trust in God, he poured out his heart to him in honest exposure of his inner struggle of faith, his confession of his own obstinance, and his deep anguish of soul when failure caused deep loss.

David had established that the Word of God would be his heritage. It would be his strong tower today, his shelter tomorrow, and his wall of defense way into the future. A heritage is something that is received – it is not earned, but rather it is a gift of a great benefactor. For David, his benefactor was God himself. For generations to come, the legacy that David left as the King of Israel, the anointed of God, would live on - but not as significant as his legacy as a child of God. His life became a shining example for others to learn from. His psalms of praise became a legacy he passed on to future generations as “messages from his heart” to God himself. Perhaps David’s greatest legacy is what God himself said about David – “He is a man after mine own heart”.

We have no greater legacy to pass on to our family than our relationship with our Lord. We have no greater example to set, no brighter light to shine, no illumination to bring into life’s tough times brighter or more enlightening than God’s Word. There is no greater legacy than being spoken of by God as a man or woman after his own heart. Let his Word illuminate your path, giving secure passage for your feet so you don’t stumble along the way and a joy to your heart all along the way. Remember, his Word illuminates what you need to see for this very moment – it may not illuminate the entire course you will travel all at one time – but it will reveal your immediate course. Light for your feet (the immediate course) – step-by-step, building a legacy of your life.