If your life ended this week, for what would you be remembered?
Bill Buckner played twenty-two seasons in the major leagues, winning a batting title with the Chicago Cubs in 1980 and playing in the All-Star Game the next year. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .289.
But it was a single play that defined his career for many. Buckner was hobbled with ankle injuries but playing first base for the Boston Red Sox when his team was one strike from winning the World Series in 1986. After three singles and a wild pitch, the game was tied.
Then a grounder went under Buckner’s glove, leading to his team’s loss. The Red Sox then lost the deciding seventh game and the Series. Buckner endured boos and even death threats from Red Sox fans.
However, years later, the city forgave and even embraced him. After Boston won the World Series in 2007, Buckner was invited back to Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch at the team’s home opener in 2008. He received a standing ovation.
Bill Buckner died yesterday at the age of sixty-nine.
Bart Starr and Amanda Eller
Bart Starr, the legendary quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, died Sunday at the age of eighty-five. He was best known for the 1967 “Ice Bowl.” Fighting a wind chill of minus 48 degrees, Starr led his team to victory over the Dallas Cowboys and then won that year’s Super Bowl.
In other news, hiker Amanda Eller was rescued Friday after spending seventeen days lost in a Hawaiian forest. She survived on wild fruit and water from creeks. Eller suffered a leg fracture and abrasions, but when searchers found her, she was otherwise in good shape.
While Starr and Eller are likely to be remembered for a particular event that made national headlines, other public figures are less easily identified.
When you think of Theresa May, who announced her resignation as British Prime Minister last Friday, you think immediately of Brexit. When you think of Benjamin Netanyahu, now struggling to form another governing coalition in Israel, you think of the Palestinians, Iran, President Trump, and a variety of other issues.
Whether your life is defined by a single issue or event or not, here’s the question: Should it be defined by a single mission? If so, which one?
A four-star general asks: “For what shall we live?”
Roger Brady is a retired United States Air Force four-star general. With command and control over an area of operations covering almost one-fifth of the globe and advanced studies at Columbia and Harvard, Gen. Brady was one of our nation’s most distinguished military leaders.
He is also a committed follower of Jesus.
Writing for Christianity Today, Gen. Brady reflects on Memorial Day: “Most Americans will never serve in the military—actually less than one percent of our population do so. And even among those of us who do, very, very few of us are asked to give that last full measure of devotion. So what is the question for us on this day as we remember those Americans who died on our behalf? I believe that question is—for what shall we live? (his italics).
Gen. Brady then offers his answer: “Whether or not we wear the uniform of our country, we all have a service to offer, a service to those ideals that reflect God’s universal truths and that our American ancestors captured in the formation of this country. When Jesus left this earth to take his place at the right hand of the Father, he left us, his bride, the church, to carry on his work. So when evil strikes in the form of a school shooting or when nature unleashes its fury and devastates property and lives, when children suffer, when people are hungry or homeless and ask ‘Where is God?!’ we must be there and have them see him in us.”
This is a powerful thought. When people ask where God is in their suffering, they deserve to find him in his followers. And our Father deserves such service from us.
Gen. Brady concludes: “So on Memorial Day, and every day, we need to ask ourselves, for what shall we live? How are we doing at fulfilling not just the ideals of our American forefathers but those universal values set in place by the one who made us in his image, who sent his only begotten son to secure our salvation, the one who ‘created us in him to do good works?’” (his italics).
Two commandments define our legacy
For what are you living today? For what should you be living?
When asked “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus famously answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28, 30–31).
To obey our Master’s Great Commandments, we should ask of everything we do today: How will this express love for my Father and my neighbor?
For example, I need to ask myself: Am I writing this morning’s Daily Article to glorify God or myself? To impress you or to serve you? You need to ask yourself: What motive will prompt my actions today? When this day is done, will my Lord and my neighbor say I loved them well?
If our purpose is defined by the Great Commandments, when our lives are over, our legacy will only have begun.