(10 Things God Uses to Enlarge Your Legacy)
Okay, take your mark. You’re about to take off on a marathon. Your coach is the Lord Jesus, the Author of your faith. Under His direction, you’ve cast aside any weights that may hinder you. At His instruction, you clear your way of any sin that might entangle you. At His signal, you’re off! And following His wise counsel, you have focused your attention on him, because he’s the Finisher of your faith as well.
You lengthen your stride and settle in. You know this is no sprint; you’re in it for the long run. Before long your body, mind, will, and emotions, begin signaling you, this won’t be easy. But about the time you reach your first obstacle, God has a surprise for you. You are not alone! You’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses! And they’re “in the grandstands” cheering you on.
These aren’t just spectators. They’re your “friends in high places” – people who have run the same race and faced the same obstacles you face. In this greatness are models of faith and perseverance who
by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment (Hebrews 11:33-37).
These aren’t just dead figures from the past. Their faith – and witness – live on. They’re watching you. Pulling for you. Believing in you. Teaching you. They’re here to testify – that’s what witnesses do – that you, too, can influence a new generation. They also testify of the tools our Father uses to deepen your message, and enlarge your influence. Here are a few:
As you run, you will face incredible odds against making it. Your back will be to the wall. But in the grandstands is Gideon, and he’s here to testify! He faced a marauding army of Midianites with only 300 men, armed only with jugs and torches, but fired by the faithfulness of God. He’ll tell you that God put him there on purpose! He’ll also declare, “You can be victorious, even when the odds are against you. I subdued kingdoms, and so can you!”
You’ve probably figured it out by now: Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you get a raw deal, even when you’ve done everything you know to live with honor and integrity. The temptation is to “sink to their level.” But there’s Joseph, who was rejected, sold, sexually harassed, falsely accused, jailed, and forgotten. Is he bitter? No. He’s cheering you on: “You can work righteousness, even when it seems impossible. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
You will face times when it seems futile to trust God’s promises because he seems to be taking you on a detour. Why does everybody else seem to be experiencing the blessings that are supposed to be reserved for you? But in the crowd you can hear the voice of Abraham. Now there’s a man who understood detours! Ridiculously long delays! But he’s calling your name, saying, “You can trust God. I waited for years, and he didn’t fail me. I received his promises.”
As you strive for a spirit of excellence, you will encounter critical, jealous people who would prefer you to remain in the mediocre majority. And to do so, they’ll take cheap shots at you. They’ll lie, falsely accuse, or somehow set you up. But in the stands is Daniel, a model of an excellent spirit, cheering you on, saying, “You can experience an extraordinary life! I stopped the mouths of lions, and so can you! You can’t stop the cheap shots from coming, but by God’s grace you can maintain a spirit of excellence.”
You will go through times of intense pressure and testing, when every inclination of your flesh is to compromise. Sometimes that comes from egotistical, abusive people in authority. Your inclination is to seek an escape or a way to get even. But in the crowd are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, testifying to the presence of God in the middle of the fire. Cheering you on, saying, “Don’t compromise! Face that inferno! With Jesus there with you, you can quench the violence of the fire!”
There will be people who, with or without cause, will hate the fact that you exist. Your temptation will be to fear them because of how intimidating or hostile they can be. You will feel outnumbered and afraid. But in the stands is Elisha, cheering you on, saying, “You can find security in the midst of the crisis! I escaped the edge of the sword, and so can you! Greater is He that is you than he that is in the world!”
Chances are, you will make choices that you regret. You’re going to get weak at times. At times, you will stumble and fall, and get up bloody and wounded. What’s more, God will allow you to live with the consequences of those choices. The temptation will be to assume there is no future for failures, that your judgment is final. But in the stands is Samson, who knew what it meant to be a colossal failure, and had the blindness and scars to show for it. And he’s there to testify of the grace of our God, that in your weakness you can be made strong.
It’s one thing when somebody challenges you. It’s another when they challenge and mock the name of the Christ who lives in you. Suddenly you’re faced with the prospect of defending the God of heaven against someone who’s bigger, smarter, more intimidating than you are. But listen closely to the cheering crowd, and you will hear David, saying, “You can conquer the giants, and become valiant in battle.”
You will face situations that are so confusing, so baffling, you are at a loss what to do. But in the stands is Jehoshaphat, who understands that sometimes God places us in impossible situations to show the world his glory. When faced with a Moabite invasion, he called his people together and publicly prayed, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12). His testimony to you is, “Your problems are God’s opportunities. He took our impossible problem and turned to flight the armies of the aliens!”
Sooner or later, your heart will be shattered by pain that God could have prevented, but didn’t. You may not understand; in fact you may be angry at God or have a hard time understanding why he would allow something like this to happen. But listen closely to the grandstands, and perhaps you will hear Elijah, shouting, “You can be a man or woman of God, not in spite of your broken heart, but because of it!”
Well, there they are. Ten things God uses to enlarge your legacy. Is this list exhaustive? You know better – God’s much more creative than that. But he will use those things, and my guess is, if you’ve been saved for any length of time, you know what I’m talking about. Isn’t it good to know that, in spite of the uncertainty, the hurt, or the fierceness of the attacks you endure, that somebody is watching – literally – out for you?