When [the Ephesian Elders] arrived, [Paul] said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."
Yesterday I heard of two young adults from my community whom I never met that died last week. I listened to stories about them from people who knew them. It occurred to me that these two people, without trying and without knowing it, made an impression on the people telling the stories. We all do. Day after day I go through life doing what I do, most times just trying to get by, and whether I mean to or not, I am making some kind of impression on the people around me. I decide what that impression is by the way I interact with them. With that in mind, I started wondering what people will say about me someday. What stories will they tell about me?
Now I’m not planning on leaving this earth any time soon, but my son's sudden death has taught me that all I have for sure is this moment, right now, to make that impression. What do I want my life to stand for? I want people to say about me that I loved Jesus and shared that love with them. I want people to be able to say that I inspired hope, love, and grace. If that’s really what I want people to take from my life, then that is how I must live my life. Each moment loving Jesus, loving them, sharing grace and spreading hope.
No matter the situation I find myself in, I need to filter my reaction through this focus—love Jesus, love others, share grace and spread hope. Not just in my calling but also when I’m running late or stuck in the slowest moving line and even when someone cuts me off in traffic, my demeanor needs to exude “love Jesus, love others, share grace and spread hope.” When someone I love hurts me or life just seems to be going against me, I need to hold onto and live out “loving Jesus, loving others, sharing grace and spreading hope.” That’s a hard thing to do moment to moment let alone for an entire lifetime. But it’s something I’m willing to put time and effort into because God taught me how to love abundantly and I have to share the love I have for him or I feel like I’ll burst. Jesus is the love of my life. He gives my life purpose and fulfillment. My relationship with him has made me who I am and I need to share with you this gift of life, of love, of hope and joy.
Jesus isn’t a silent partner in all of this. He will shine through my life despite my less than Christ-like moments. I’m going to forget or selfishly disregard this personal mission statement at times. My prayer is that these times are few and far between and that these lapses in judgement won’t do too much damage to impression I desperately want to leave with each of you.
Everything you do today will leave an impression on the people around you. What is that impression going to be and is it the one you want to leave with them?