What Will I Leave Behind?
By: Nancy Anne Chapman
When I was a teenager back in the mountains of North Carolina, F. A. Raines sang a song that still sticks in my memory. After more than fifty years, I recall the chorus:
“Leave behind, yes, leave behind.
What will I leave behind?
After I leave for worlds unknown,
What will I leave behind?”
I WILL leave behind a testimony! What will it be? Will those closest to me have seen the love of God in action? Will my fellow church members remember me as self-serving or selflessly serving others? Will the unsaved know I “practiced what I preached”? Will they know I really cared?
Years ago, I heard Evangelist Jack Greene preach a sermon, “What Kind of Tale Is Your Life Telling?” That’s a serious question! The Holy Spirit writes very honest biographies. Some are sad commentaries, but some are inspiring:
“Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:24).
“Abraham believed God” (Gal. 3:6) and was called “the Friend of God” (James 2:23).
God said Moses was “faithful in all mine house” (Num. 12:7).
Jesus said, “Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11).
Paul’s writings give a snapshot of many of his associates:
“Luke, the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14).
“Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks” (Rom. 16:3-4).
“Mary, who bestowed much labour on us” (Rom. 16:6).
Onesimus, a thief and runaway slave became “a faithful and beloved brother” (Col. 4:9). Though he’d been “unprofitable,” he became “profitable” (Philemon 1:11).
Unfortunately, not everyone had a good report. At one point, Paul called Demas one of “my fellowlabourers” (Philemon 1:24), but that changed. Little by little, his love for the Lord and devotion to the cause of Christ grew cold. He looked around at his situation. Paul was a prisoner and might die soon, then, what would happen to him? It was dangerous now to be a Christian, and life was passing him by. He saw others enjoying the good things of life and became more and more discontent with his lot. Eventually, what was INSIDE came to the OUTSIDE, and one day, Demas was gone!
With a heavy heart, Paul wrote, “Demas hath forsaken me” (2 Tim. 4:10). He’d deserted Paul, abandoned him when he was needed most because he “loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). That’s the memory he left behind.
Every day, I write another chapter in my story by living either for this present world or for the world to come. Paul said, “Ye are our epistle…known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). I’m writing. What are they reading? It matters, because while I’m writing my story here on earth, God is also writing it in His book in Heaven. One day, all the chapters will be reviewed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).
Demas didn’t just get up one morning and decide to forsake Paul. His downfall was a process, starting with a thought that he didn’t bring “into captivity…to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It ended with the sad tale, “Demas hath forsaken me!” He failed to keep his heart with all diligence (Prov. 4:23). What a lesson for us!
Life is swiftly passing! One day, the last chapter of our earthly lives will be written. We can make the most of every day, living it with a purpose and a goal. May we let our lights shine and allow the Lord to love others through us as “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost….” (Rom. 5:5). In so doing, we can impact the lives of those the Lord brings across our path. Then, when we leave this world, we will leave behind the fragrance of the sweetness of Christ which will linger in their memories.