I just had the honor of celebrating the life of a man who left a bigger-than-him legacy in the wake of his passing. He impacted family as a husband, father, brother… His influence echoed through friend circles and poured out into generations of baseball players. He was a pillar in his community and a rock for our church. The words spoke about him at his funeral are the ones most of us hope to be said of us when the time comes. It’s moments like that, when life feels so fragile, that we find ourselves asking what would be said of us. What will people know us for? What words will resonate with them long after we’re gone? What impression, values, or lessons will we leave them with when they think of us?
I think building a legacy with living is worth some serious headspace. Not the plan-your-funeral kind of headspace, but more like the consistent, moment by moment intentionality that a purposefully impactful life requires. Your life will make an impact. That’s a cause-and-effect type of guarantee. It’s up to you to decide what that impact does to people.
Recently God gave me a word that has shaped how I want to live my life. It’s actually a word that’s completely opposite of what I’m running after. Sometimes we can get a better understanding about something by getting a clear picture of what it’s not. This is one of those times.
To be reckless is to be without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. It can look like a lot of things for you and me on a personal level. Maybe it’s sending that text to have the last word, or eating the whole pizza in secret. Maybe it’s disengaging in a needed conversation because it’s uncomfortable. It can be action or inaction, external or internal… Reckless behavior, thoughts, or patterns will cause our lives to drift off the blueprint that God has so expertly designed for our lives. It can hijack the life of blessing and fulfillment He so desires us to experience. God’s Word reminds us that we have a choice to make every single day:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” –Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT
Basically, if we aren’t living with some level of intentionality, we are living recklessly. On the flip side, to be intentional is to have a purpose, an aim, a direction, or a plan. In life, by no means does it mean we have it all together. I repeat: by no means. It means that we have a vision for our life that drives our decisions, our actions, and our responses. The words we speak and the way we treat others takes new shape when we believe that living on purpose, with purpose, has consequences. Every action has a reaction. (Science, anyone?)
As someone who follows Jesus’ example with their life, this goes even further. We have each been given the exhilarating and humbling responsibility to be the vessel that God has chosen to express Himself to all people. As we align with His vision to reach all people with love and grace, we begin to impact people through the truth and the character of Jesus. We have a heightened purpose. Every moment, every interaction, every opportunity is a space where God can work to draw people closer to Himself if we allow Him. And yes, I mean every moment. He can use the broken, mascara-running-down-your-face spaces just as much as the mountaintop, life-is-beautiful ones. In the vulnerable and victorious, we can live with intentionality. He has promised to thread our life together with purpose.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28 ESV
Life is a journey. It’s a wonderful, messy, complex, and riveting display of the moments that make us who we are. Becoming the woman God created us to be is a lot like running a race, as Paul often compares this life to throughout the New Testament. He charges us to run with purpose, and today I charge you the same:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” –1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:12, 14 ESV
Living intentionally isn’t about being the most perfect, polished version of ourselves in every moment. It’s about embracing the becoming journey in full force, around every bend, and in the midst of every stage with great vision and purpose. Let’s give thought to what makes up the sum of our everyday moments, what we impress upon people, and the legacy we leave on the trail our lives blaze. While life is like a vapor, let’s give it substance by building people up with love and pointing them towards God’s grace gift of Jesus.
In your joy and your pain, your trial and triumph, know that your life means something. Your story is significant. Your purpose is powerful. All of Heaven is cheering you on as you run after the prize on the other side of a life well lived. Life is too short to be reckless. Get out there and make it count.