I want to write you as this new semester begins and tell you a story about myself and then ask something of you. But first let me give you a Scripture to start your studies with:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV).
I was orphaned as a child. My Aunt Eva adopted me and reared me. She had never had children of her own. And she was recently widowed, when at 65 years of age, an 18 month old baby was placed in her arms. I was that child. Aunt Eva reared me in a rural, poverty-stricken area of Southeastern Louisiana, in the piney woods, on the border of Mississippi. She prayed for me everyday of my life. That is not hyperbole. She laid her hands on me and prayed for me. Years later, after I had gone through a “prodigal journey” and then come to the Lord in repentance and faith, she was there. She had prayed me home. When Mae and I married and God called me to preach, she went with us to seminary. She was there at my commissioning as a US Army Reserve chaplain. She was there when I founded a church and school in Overland Park, Kansas. At 99 years of age, she lay dying. Before she left this world, she blessed our son, John Michael, who was a baby. She thanked my wife for all she had done (to straightened me out!!) and to care for her. Then, she drew me near to her and whispered with the remaining strength she had, “My son, keep up the good work of the Lord.” I will never forget that moment. She then slipped into the presence of the Lord she had worship for so long.
A few years ago, the late, great folk singer, Dan Fogelberg, composed and recorded a song about his father. He called it, “Leader of the Band.” There is a line in that song that I always love, I always sing along with, and I always personalize (and others likely do as well, and that was the key to the popularity of the song). That line is, “I am the living legacy of the leader of the band.” I, too, know the truth: I am just the living legacy of a woman of faith, my Aunt Eva. I am little more and nothing less than that. But because of that, because of her influence in my life, her love, her pattern of faith, I want to move forward in that same faith. I may stumble and I may fall, but in the toughest times that I may face, I want to sing that song again, “I am the LIVING LEGACY of…Aunt Eva.
How about you? Who is the one who prayed for you, or whispers in the ear of your soul, “Son—Daughter—keep up the good work.” When you sing, “I am the living legacy of…” who do you say you are the living legacy of…?
Now. I raise this to encourage you; to encourage you to remember those who would “cheer you on” as it were. Oh that you could think of those who helped you to this point. Oh that your heart could be stirred to go the distance as you begin a new Spring semester, or, with some of you, conclude your seminary time and begin to think about a transition to a call to ministry.
Yet for all of us, we are moved by those who have gone before, those who mentored us, those who loved us, those sacrificed so that we could be here today, serving the Lord. What an honor and privilege!
So, I say, “Thanks Lord. Thanks Aunt Eva.” And I say to you, ”Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” and dedicate your service to our Triune God, but also to those He gave you in this life—and “come hungry”—each day—to learn, to give, to soak up the blessings of our seminary camaraderie, and to be inspired and to inspire.
The Lord bless and keep you; and help you to become a legacy to cheer someone else on as well.
- The Priority of Prayer: 2 Kings 4.8-37 (michaelmilton.org)
- Ligon Duncan elected to regular faculty of Reformed Seminary while continuing in the pastorate. (theaquilareport.com)
- RTS Welcomes The Reverend Reddit Andrews as Our New Professor (michaelmilton.org)
- A son’s moving tribute to his Pastor Father (headhearthand.org)
- Appointed to His Service – The Gospel as the Foundation for Christian Ministry (albertmohler.com)
- “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…Pastor:” How Two Cold War Foes Became Pastoral Friends (michaelmilton.org)
- The Christmas Robot: Surprise and the Incarnation (michaelmilton.org)
- Crawl Before You Preach: Advise from a Friend on Preparing Your Sermon (and your life) (michaelmilton.org)