Posts Tagged ‘impact’

LEGACY 21: The Legacy of Asking Key Questions

July 13, 2018

It’s been several weeks since I’ve written a blog myself, but the idea for one popped up this morning when I awoke. We (my wife and I) are on our way to northwest Ohio (a 12-hour drive) to wrap up the affairs of her 93-year-old father, who died (preferable in my book to the somewhat euphemistic “passed”) this past Tuesday. In his waning days, he asked a relative, “What is the purpose of life?” The relative, definitely younger and less experienced in life, was taken aback and, not knowing how to answer, didn’t respond. She said she wished she had known what was going on and said something. I’m not sure that was the important thing. Can we ever really know if we say the right thing?

So I found myself thinking, “What are the key questions we should ask?”

What prompts us to ask? What is the purpose of asking? Do we really want answers? Or are we looking for something attendant—Relationship? Mere information? Satisfying our curiosity? (Why is it that children are always asking WHY? and we as adults stop asking?)

There are 2 kinds of questions—unimportant and important. Key questions definitely fit into the latter. But there are probably a host of questions that are important but not key. So let’s keep delving down into levels of importance and “key-ness.”

There are questions that identify information that matters, as opposed to trivia. There are questions that help influence decision-making. And there are questions that change our lives. I’m not a philosopher, so questions of epistemology (the theory of the nature of knowledge) I’m not qualified to begin to answer. How much can be known? The answer is the Question of the Ages: Who knows? (and if you respond in pat theological certainty, “God knows!”—how do you know that? And the begging questions, “Are there things He doesn’t know?” And on and on it goes…)

In my little, often-unknowing mind, there are a few KEY key questions for sure. My father-in-law asked one of them: “What is the purpose of life?” It can be asked in other ways or with other nuances: “Why am I here?” “How can I find meaning/significance?” “What do I need to be doing with my life?” Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (according to a 1991 survey conducted by the US Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club, one of the 10 Most Influential Books in the US. See Wikipedia under the term “MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING.” A humorous footnote: The archived article, from the NY Times, has 13 total books listed. Five of them, including Frankl’s, are tied for 9th place. There is no actual 10th place book.)

Key questions revolve around key needs: purpose, relationship, legacy. What will I leave behind? (Why do I blog? What do I gain by it?)

My father-in-law was one of the most purposeful and effective men I’ve ever met. He lived a full and productive life and left a great legacy for his family and his world.

I wish I could ask him now, “What did you mean by that question? Do you have an answer? Was it the answer you expected? Is it the answer you wanted?” and “Are you still asking questions? If so, why?” And perhaps the most important one for me, “What question should I be asking right now?”

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LEGACY 20: The Legacy of Valuing One Soul Too Much

June 24, 2018

James Clavell has a chilling scene at the close of his epic novel WHIRLWIND, the story of a British helicopter company in Iran in 1979, amid the world-changing turmoil of the overthrow of the Shah by radical Muslims. He has an Islamic mullein on horseback looking down at the company from the top of a hill, saying to himself, “We will defeat you. Why? Because you value one soul too much.” (This may be a paraphrase. See also my LEGACY 9 blogpost.)

I can’t prove it, but this seems to be a uniquely Western Judeo-Christian core value. Most historically great or famous cultures—Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Roman, Turkish Ottoman, French Revolution, Marxism, a slew of modern blood-lust dictatorships and tyrannies—you name it—all have devalued the individual and exalted some ideal. “Everyman.” [In case you’re wondering, I just finished the audio version of A TALE OF TWO CITIES.]

My pastor, Bill C., who is 79 and came to that calling mid-life, had a vision that brought him to that concept in the mid 1980-s. He says it happened when he had started going to Jack Hayford’s church in southern California. He topped a hill overlooking the sprawling city as the evening lights were coming on, and seeing a small but clear image of Jesus in his windshield. Jesus put his finger on Bill’s heart and said, “If you’d been the only one, I would have done it for you.” He claims this has happened to numerous people throughout history, radically changing their outlook. Something like it on a more confrontational personal level happened to Saul on the Damascus, changing him into the one of those who “have turned the world upside down.”

There are some books that historically document the radically world-changing nature of the selflessness such a core value can have—HOW CHRISTIANITY CHANGED THE WORLD by Alvin J. Schmidt, HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION (part of THE HINGES OF HISTORY series) by Thomas Cahill, some of Chuck Colson’s books (LOVING GOD, KNOWING GOD). War stories of inspirational speeches (Churchill) or sacrifices that have turned the tide of battle. Survival stories where someone laid down his life for others. Stories of great choices made that saved a plane (SULLY) or a city (KNIGHTS OF MALTA).

This is a legacy I want my children and grandchildren to know about. I’m only a small cog in the great mechanism of the universe, but my inner being cries out to be valued like that. Most of us do. We want to know we are significant. We want to know that our being here matters.

I want to leave a legacy of valuing one soul too much. It may cost us our lives, but I believe it lets us take our rightful place in eternity. Jesus keeps passing that mantle, and sometimes we put it on, even if only for one eternal moment.

Listen With Your Whole Heart

June 16, 2013

Listen with your heart. Listen with your whole heart. That is the key to loving people.

Listening changes people. Listening converts people. Listening is the heart of the matter.

Listen to others. But first listen to your own heart. Listen to God. Hear His heartbeat for you. Then when you can listen to others, you can listen to His heartbeat for them.

Wholehearted people are the people we admire. They accomplish superhuman feats. They change the world by changing the people they impact. They pour out their lives by pouring out their hearts, but they do it best out of a reservoir that is overflowing.

When I really listen, time gets expanded exponentially. Eternity comes into the moment. Time stands still, breathlessly waiting for me, for the one I’m listening to. I become one with them, and enter their pain, their joy, their love, their successes, their failures, their hearts.

When I have fully listened, and a sense of wholeness is fully complete, time resumes—but that moment has been captured in memory, a snapshot or a video to replay at leisure, or at needed times.

Hearing God and Reflection

April 9, 2012

Hearing God and Reflection.

Incredibly good blog on hearing God through reflection!

Sam Williamson’s blog “Beliefs of the Heart”