My trip to England has come and gone and today I am staving off day four of jet-lag and trying to touch down to reality. I feel as though I have been living in centuries of history the past few weeks and honestly it’s been exhilarating! My friend Debbie and I walked over 65 miles of uneven cobblestone in cities, villages and hamlets hundreds of years old with history carved in every nook and cranny.
I’ve had several people ask me what was the most memorable experience and it is hard to choose. Today I choose just one, soaking up the corridors of Westminster Abbey. It is more than a church, the halls and cloisters chronicle the history of prominent men and women who have marked history either with integrity or with scandal. Monarchs, poets, playwrights, philanthropists, statesmen and more are memorialized lining the marble floors and walls. People such as William Wilberforce, C.S. Lewis, Handel, Churchill, Chaucer, Dickens, the Bronte Sisters and the like remind us of how even modern society has been influenced by their life work.
Walking through centuries of history and reading sentences and sometimes paragraphs of the epitaphs of these great men and women remind me continually of the legacy we are commissioned to leave on this earth by God. And it is a choice of just what kind of legacy we will choose to leave.
Early this morning those thoughts came to an intersection with history meeting reality. My traveling friend Debbie, sent me a text with news of graduation to heaven of one of my very first pastors and employers in my young adult life, Dr. Tim LaHaye. Many know him as the co-author of the fiction series Left Behind, but I knew him as the pastor of my church and employer when I worked at the LaHaye’s Family Life Organization in the late 1970’s.
Tim LaHaye was an honorable man of unwavering faith and godly character that has marked his legacy. He finished well and I consider him to be one of the pillars in the forming of my initial foundation of faith. His early writings left an imprint on my young soul. His inspiring Sunday sermons pointed me in the right direction to consider my commitment to Jesus. I wasn’t just impacted from afar but up close.
He had time to say hello and give words of encouragement to young adults like myself at church and the college located on the same campus of which he was founder. Looking back, I thought it was pretty normal and as I got older I realized how rare it really was that as the lead Pastor he took an interest in the young adults that surrounded him at church and the college. Even decades later Kevin and I had the chance to connect and he remembered us and asked with interest about our lives and ministry. He had a true pastor’s heart and no amount of fame tarnished his love for people and for Jesus.
When I reflect on my own choice of leaving a godly legacy, Dr. Tim LaHaye has left the example of footsteps worth following. Why? Because he loved Jesus and served him until the very end not compromising truth or his faith. He may not be memorialized in Westminster Abbey, but his influence will be memorialized in the hearts and lives of the hundreds of thousands his godly legacy has reached.