With the rest of the country I watched with sadness as allegations unfolded at Penn State against Jerry Sandusky. As the story developed, I saw the investigation point to some level of complicity on the part of university officials. I’m not here to judge the actions of any person or institution—the legal system will work its way through all the charges. But the thing that caught my attention were the sanctions imposed by the NCAA. The thing that really struck me was the vacating of all the Penn State victories for many years. In one moment Joe Paterno fell from being the winningest football coach of all times. I saw the anger and discouragement of his family as his legacy (along with his statue) came tumbling down.
And I thought all the glory or all the shame the world can heap on a person means nothing to Joe Paterno now. The only judgment that matters at all is the judgment he faced at the moment of his death. His legacy was forever sealed before the face of God. I hope and pray that was a merciful judgment. I hope and pray that his spiritual legacy was one that will endure joyfully for eternity. All the football victories, his long career and his fame on this earth no longer matter for anything—only how he conducted himself before God.
I also grieved with the country over the senseless loss of life in a movie theater in Aurora, CO. News accounts rightfully chronicle the many achievements of their young lives, which were tragically cut short. I doubt if any of them went to the movies that night thinking about eternal life. Like all of us, their thoughts probably wandered around the events of the day, what kind of mood they were in, what their plans were for tomorrow.
But in a moment, without warning, all their successes in the world became irrelevant as they stood before the Lord to give an account of their lives and appeal to his mercy.
I want to succeed in life as much as the next person. I hope my life will leave a legacy of love and service to others, of jobs well done, of a life that was admired. Human nature naturally desires these achievements. These are good things. But we never know when we will be called to give an account of our lives before God. We should never make the mistake of living for our earthly legacy. It is fleeting, but our spiritual legacy will last forever.
The news lately has me thinking about my priorities and my true legacy. I want to live well on earth, but my deepest longing is for heaven. How do my daily choices prepare me for my ultimate goal?
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