The air at West main has been thick since the turn of the year. 2011 has been rough. It all began in December of 2010 when one of our elders, Mel Hamilton, was injured in a bad fall from a ladder. It’s been 4 months and he’s in a wheelchair, STILL fighting serious infection. Several elderly members of the family have passed away since January. In January one of our dearest friends was severely injured in a snowboarding accident, and tragically passed away after fighting massive brain injuries. Then my family got REALLY sick. And then last week, another elder, and dear mentor of mine, Truman Scott suffered a massive stroke.
It seems that one dark cloud after another keeps coming our way. It’s been rough, but we have pressed on and we know that there is a light at the end of this all. Still…it has been trying, to say the least. In each situation, the tragedies seem almost specifically targeted. It is really quite eerie. Let me explain.
Mel is in his sixties. He is in great shape. He is active and regularly exercises. He is a prolific walker, usually at the mall. He is not a prideful man at all, but if he was, he’d be proud of this, I think. He is known for walking the church building, watching over the flock and hugging and greeting all who “get in his way”. So this is what was attacked. He cannot walk. It HAS to be killing him. It means something to him. It defines him in the eyes of many folks at the church. It has felt empty without him “walking his perimeter”. His absence has been felt. It has affected morale at church, without a doubt. There is a hole.
Branson’s accident hit the hardest. To have someone SO YOUNG and SO FULL OF LIFE pass away really took the breath out of everyone. It hit the body here like a freight train, and took a little pep out of some usual VERY peppy steps!
Then the most recent event was Truman and his stroke. The stroke seems to have only attacked his speech and cognition center of the brain. He has NO paralysis, and looks great. To many this could be a pretty good diagnosis and prognosis. But to Truman it could be the worst news possible. This is a man who has built his entire life on WORDS. He is a preacher, teacher and writer. For these to be taken away are a CRUEL possibility. And we are already feeling the loss at church. He is the communicator for our shepherds. He is a calming and rational presence. And he is ALWAYS in the lobby, greeting everyone with a warm handshake and a hello. It is already missed, and we pray it could return.
It would be easy for us to look at all of this and throw our hands up in exasperation. It would be easy to want to cry out and give up. It is a harsh reminder of what can so quickly and easily be taken away from us. But in each of these cases there is something bigger going on. Mel is known for his tender heart and his YEARS of service to God’s kingdom. From his work overseas, to the classrooms, to years of teaching and evangelizing. This is WHO HE IS. You could take away his ability to walk, or anything else, but you could NEVER take away his legacy. That will live on forever. Same with Branson. His free living spirit, his daring attitude to take life had on….Nothing will destroy that legacy. And Truman’s body of work will be around long after any of us are! His many books, lessons, sermons and countless lives he has touched compile a legacy that can NEVER be damaged.
The reality is this: Our LEGACY is on thing that can never be taken from us. What we do today will STILL matter tomorrow. The lives you touch, and the love you leave behind will live on a long time after we pass away. This is a very SOBERING yet HOPEFUL thought to me. And I hope it causes us all to stop and pause and ask some questions. What kind of legacy am I leaving? For what will I be remembered? What will be said f me long after I am gone?
I urge all of us to live a life that we can be proud of. Lead lives that even if tragedy takes everything from us, our legacies will continue to work for the kingdom long after we do. Live a life worthy of the calling…..