David Cassidy, the 70’s teen heart-throb of TV’s Partridge Family fame, died of liver failure recently at the age of 67. His daughter, who spent most of her growing up years with her mother and stepfather, shared on Facebook her father’s last words: “So much wasted time.” I must admit to loving the Partridge family music. I think I Love You and C’mon Get Happy have been playing over and over in my mind since I heard reports of his early death. At his best, David Cassidy brought joy through his music; at his worst he lived many years as another famous person drowning in alcohol.
I cried when I read David Cassidy’s last words. How sad it must be to look back at your life and recognize that much of it was time wasted. How lonely it must feel to look back at your life and find a trail littered with broken relationships.
I distinctly remember lying in bed one night a few years ago, reciting Psalm 23 and hearing one very familiar phrase very differently: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” I had always thought that phrase means that because I live in the Kingdom of God, God will shower goodness and mercy on me for all eternity. But suddenly I heard a different meaning. Perhaps verse 4 can also mean that because I live in the Kingdom of God, I can leave a legacy of goodness and mercy for others – a legacy that can outlive my death.
We are coming to the end of a year in which millions of words were wasted. People in important positions are leaving legacies of bitterness, hatred, and bigotry. Lives have been shattered seemingly beyond repair. Many have spent too much time in the office or on their phone or on the golf course without the slightest thought of their legacy. How will they be remembered after their deaths?
Here’s a soul training exercise for all of us who are Christ-followers. Spend some time before the dawn of 2018 reflecting on what you have left behind in 2017. Was it a trail of goodness and mercy? If so, vow to be further inspired by the voice of the Holy Spirit and become an even more effective trailblazer. If, when you examine your life, a legacy of goodness and mercy is not the first thing you see, give some thought as to how you can change that. What can you do or undo to be sure that goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life – and into eternity?