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I thought my Dad had died 25 years ago, but there he was looking at me in the eye. Spooky. All the emotions I felt the last time I saw him on his death bed came back in a instant. Memories flashed on my mental screen like a slide show: Fishing together was the featured picture. But, then I refocus and realize that I’m actually looking at his driver’s license photo I found in his wallet.

I’m in Albuquerque helping my brothers clean out my mom’s house so we can sell it. Mom is 94 and Dad really did die 25 years ago. Going through an old five-drawer filing cabinet, I am tossing their papers that don’t really matter and keeping the few documents that we need. And then, I happen upon this cache of Dad’s personal effects. There was his wallet with his Sam’s Club card, pieces of paper with his writing, business cards,  important phone numbers, names. His driver’s license. Nostalgia. Grief. Joy.

Then,   perspective.

What will my kids and grandkids find out about me when they have to go through this ritual of cleaning out our stuff in my house after I die? What will be the stuff of my legacy?

Jesus tells us the truth about stuff…that our life does not consist in the “abundance of things”. If not our furniture, pictures, fishing tackle, what then? What important legacy stuff should I leave behind for my family?

My Dad left me his laughter, his smile, his kindness, his bottom-line mentality. Sure I have his old metal tackle box with ancient fishing tackle. But, what I cherish is how he laughed; how hard he worked; how he sacrificially served his family, caring for his mother-in-law in her late 90’s. Great examples for me to follow.

For sure, I don’t want my kids to have to wade through the reams of meaningless papers and relics I should toss now.

For sure, I want to leave them memories of me trying to care for them, trying to guide them, and loving them with unmistakable words and actions of kindness and help.

But more than that, I want my children and grandchildren to be captured by the real stuff of legacy when they happen upon my photo ID.  If they look in my eyes  in driver’s license photo,  the picture that I hope will flash before them instantly and continually is that Jesus is a gracious and forgiving Savior and Lord for me…and them.

Pastor Mike