We all need people who inspire us
The buzz word around the Olympics has been "legacy" but as Christians with a call to reach others with the Good News of Christ, it's healthy to consider what our own personal legacy in life might be
Published 20 August 2012 | Rob James
Well the Olympic bubble finally burst leaving us with a healthy feel-good factor and continuing questions about its enduring legacy. The UK made much of this in its winning bid but thankfully it’s remained at the forefront of all our discussions ever since.
I guess the people of East London will enjoy the most tangible benefits. The Olympic Park and village will remain as potent tributes to our engineering skills and our ability to get things done on time. Images of Boris dancing at the final concert will no doubt linger long in the mind too.
But for me London 2012 can be summed up in one word: inspiration. Laura Trott epitomises this. Few if any would deny that, given the physical challenges she has faced since birth, she is nothing short of a national role model.
Laura however, would first acknowledge the part others have played in her progress too. Writing in the Daily Telegraph she said: “One of the reasons I got into this sport in a serious way is that I found a role model – and that was Vicky (Pendleton). I loved the way she rode her bike. And she has always been so tough when it comes to race situations. Yet she has always managed to combine that with being feminine, a woman trying to lead a normal life in the sporting world. That’s what you need when you are a youngster, some inspiration at that moment in your life when you are deciding whether to go for something or not."
Christians need inspirational role models too. The writer to the Hebrews understood that, which is why he spent so much time describing a great “great cloud” of Biblical witnesses Hebrews 11-12).
It’s good to pray tribute to those who have motivated us and helped shape us because they remind us that we have a responsibility to be good role models too.
Looking back, I can pay tribute to so many. There was Katherine for example. She was a mere 21 when she was told that she would die if she didn’t receive a heart and lung transplant. She came to me as her pastor and asked me if the Lord would be happy for her to proceed. She wasn’t worried about the operation; she was far more concerned to know what the Bible had to say abut it. She showed me what real faith is, and how that links in with our understanding of Scripture.
Dick taught me to give. He was so generous that my wife and I were afraid to say we liked something because we knew it would turn up at our home within a few days! And we were not alone in this. His funeral service was packed with people from all over the country who wanted to pay tribute to his generosity and gracious behaviour.
Emlyn on the other hand showed me that faithfulness does not always mean cosiness! Emlyn grew up in a mining town in the South Wales valleys and became a pastor in his early twenties. Emlyn was racked with pain every day of his life but he ‘worked his socks off for Jesus’ until the day he was taken into hospital and died. I will never forget his last words:
“I can no longer comfort draw from my frail hold on thee; it’s in this alone I rejoice with awe – your mighty grasp of me."
Emlyn had anything but an easy life but he showed me that God can give us the strength to face anything, even an unexpected death.
Looking back though I would have to say that I have been most inspired by my friend John (who recently accepted an invitation to become a pastor in Mid Wales at the tender age of 73!). John has taught me that when we are willing to do anything God asks us to do there are no limits to what He can achieve through us. There are thousands of people in the former Yugoslavia who can bear testimony to that (which is why I am writing a book about his work there). For when war broke out in the early 1990s, John responded to God’s call to “do something” and in the process discovered that He really can do more than we could ever ask or even imagine.
If I can inspire a future of believers to think like that I will be happy with my legacy too.
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