I’ll fight with my dentures

1 Samuel 31:4-6 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

We all have the opportunity to leave a legacy.  It is comprised of the values we esteem, the impression we leave on others, and the choices we make.  It is defined by the way we lead and the way we serve.  And it is wrapped up by the way we finish.  While we all have our bumps along the road of life, the finish line is what really matters most.  A strong finish can make you forget all the mistakes in between.  But what happens when you fail to end well?  How would it feel to know you have failed at leaving a worthwhile legacy to those behind you?

Such is the case with Saul.  He started off so well.  He was the first king that Israel ever had.  Sure he made mistakes along the way, but he had the opportunity to finish out his reign and his life with dignity and pass something onto those behind him.  Instead, he spent his latter years consumed with trying to hunt down David and kill him.  He visited a medium to call up the spirit of Samuel because he couldn’t get God to answer him.  Just really bad choices, people!

What sticks out to me the most, however, is his miserable finish.  He doesn’t go down fighting valiantly defending the honor of the Lord.  No, he fell on his sword and killed himself.  Lame.  And that was it, the end of the first king of Israel.  All that I can remember about his reign was the fact that he was a miserable failure who died a cowardly death.  Legacy FAIL.

There is no way I am going to follow in Saul’s footsteps.  I am going to finish well.  Even if I have no sword and I have to fight the enemy with my dentures – so be it!  I will be marked as a man of God, full of courage.  And I am going to think about the legacy I am leaving too.  Because we leave one whether we try to or not.  Some people might leave a legacy of alcoholism, abuse, violence, or anger.  They don’t mean to, but they do.  So I am going to think about what I am passing on.  I am going to work at it.  I am going to consciously leave a legacy every day of my life.

That’s Dedication

Ruth 1:15-18   15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

I wonder if we really know what true dedication is? We are so conditioned in our culture to stick with something until we are not feelin’ it anymore.  That’s not dedication.  Dedication is Ruth sticking with Naomi.  She had no obligation to stand by her mother-in-law.  It was simply out of conviction.  And as we will soon find out, it was worth it.

The thing I admire about Ruth is that she didn’t waffle in her decision.  She didn’t give a conditional promise.  Rather she said, “I will go where you go, your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  That’s a big thing to sign up for.  It required denying herself and having a complete change in identity.  It required leaving behind everything she ever knew, all for a woman who was not her mother.  It was a choice she would have to live with for the rest of her life.  Yet, she was willing to make the choice.

The Bible tells us that our yes should mean yes and our no should mean no.  Yet we often commit to things and don’t follow through.  Sometimes we have good intentions and we just don’t put the work into the commitment.  Other times we never had any intention of doing what we said we would do.  As for me, I want to learn from Ruth.  I want to be dedicated to things worth dedicating my life toward.  And I want to stick with them.  I want to be a finisher.  To me, that’s what dedication is all about: finishing what you started.