It’s Not What You Think

I’ve discussed this topic before, and in different contexts.  But, it’s such an important subject I simply cannot leave it alone.

In life we put emphasis on the things we think are most important:

  • Family
  • Children
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Entertainment
  • Charity

And there are many more.  We hope we have done a good job, but it’s often hard to tell.  We hope we measure up – sometimes we use our dreams, our expectations to measure our progress, or lack thereof – sometimes we use our parents, and what they accomplished, as our measuring rod.  Sometimes we attempt to determine just where we are in terms of living this life that we’ve been given.  Still others have given up trying to do anything with their life.

Of course, there are only two measures I can think of that truly matter.  It’s not what you think you’ve accomplished, as you are not the best judge of your own worth.  No, the only two measures that seem to really matter, and will last beyond your earthly visit here, are:

  1. What does God think?
  2. What impressions, lessons, or legacy have you left behind to others?

Now it would be speculation as to what God thinks, so I will leave that alone.  But, on the second one we might want to take a moment and ponder.  The problem with the second item is that what we think about ourselves, and what others think about ourselves, can be two entirely different things.  It must be time for an illustration to prove my point.

My father was a father, brother, son, uncle, husband, business man, leader, etc…  We could come up with all kinds of things he accomplished during his lifetime, and they might be pretty important things.  But, when I think about what he left behind, it is not the things he accomplished, the success he had in business, or any earthly possessions that come to mind.  What comes to mind is the character of the man.  My father has been gone now for 34 years, and I have mostly forgotten the things he said.  I’ve even forgotten some of the things he accomplished.  But, I have not forgotten the character he represented.  Of course, I seriously doubt if he thought that would really matter, or be of significance after he was gone, but his character is the one thing I believe most people will remember about my father.

We could spend a great deal of time defining exactly what ‘character’ means, but I’ll summarize my definition:

Character – how a person conducts themselves, deals with other people, conducts business, shows judgment and mercy, compassion to the disadvantaged, forgiveness for wrongs, commitment, faithfulness, honor, humility, etc…

These are the things, and more, that will most determine what people will remember about you after you are gone.  These are the things people will use to measure what kind of person you were, and what kind of legacy you leave behind.

Sometimes we get confused, and think accomplishing ‘things’ is more important than character.  I built a business.  I built a church.  I taught Sunday School.  I gave to my charity.  I sacrificed a day a week to help out at the soup kitchen.  All these things are important, but they may not be the things that are remembered.

Chances are good you will be remembered in different ways than you would expect or imagine.  In fact, it is probably not possible, nor desirable, to understand what you will be remembered for.  What is important is that your life fulfilled the purpose God had for you even before you were born.  Yes, every life has a purpose.  In many instances, this purpose goes unfulfilled or is lacking.

There is no easy way to describe this, but I’ll take a stab at it…

Imagine that God is the master painter, and you are the art work He wants to create.  He doesn’t create this art all alone, you are involved in every step.  Unlike a normal painting where the artist does all the work, in this situation God is the master painter, and has the master design, but the artwork participates in the final result.  Unfortunately, sometimes the art work is marred, and colors appear where they shouldn’t.  Some portions are smeared, and left without definition.  Why?  Because we have altered the perfect plan of God.  However, the painting is not destroyed, nor is it thrown away.  God can make some adjustments to the painting to help restore its intended beauty, but often there are indelible scars that cannot be covered over or removed.  Still it is a work of art and beauty.

While this is far from a perfect illustration, I’m sure you get the point.  Now, back to my title.  Life is not what we think it is – it is what God thinks it is.  He has the plan, and He knows how it should end.  He knows what purpose it should fulfill.  He knows the final painting He wants to achieve.

I leave you with this closing thought and real life illustration that my mother gave me some years ago.

She told me, “Life is like a tapestry that has been carefully stitched and woven together.  Various threads have been knotted and tied together to form a perfect work of art.  However, we, in this life, only see the underside of that tapestry.  It is a hodge-podge of crisscrossed threads, knots, and doesn’t make a bit of sense to us.  It certainly doesn’t look like a work of art.  But, God sees the finished side, the one with all the colors carefully blended, the images perfect and clear, the edges sharp and clean.  It is not until we pass over to the other side we will be allowed to see the final results God has carefully, and skillfully crafted into our life.”

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One Response to “It’s Not What You Think”

  1. Bea McGuire Says:

    Beautiful blog but I do think the last paragraph sums it all up in a nutshell! I won’t forget that story! Blessings….

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