This week has caused a lot of sobering and humbling moments to remind me of some important things in life. My heart sank last week when I heard the news that Hugh Hefner passed away. I don’t grieve because he was a great man. I don’t grieve because the porn industry lost their icon. I grieve because a man died after living a life that has nothing eternal to show for it- a man who the world’s eyes. My heart sank on Monday morning after hearing the news of Las Vegas. I grieved because lives were taken and lost. I grieved because people were faced with eternity. You might ask why I mention two very different situations- the death of an old man and a mass shooting.
I have spent many moments this week just praying and asking God for direction and understanding of how to process all of this. I am sure if I did my research I would find more lives taken and lost around this world. I would find more stories of people having lived very different lives all with the same outcome- death. In the wake of all the loss of life, beginning when I heard the news of Hugh Hefner’s death, my heart has been stirring one big question: what legacy will I leave behind when I die? We each will meet our end. We each will die, some of old age, some of diseases, some of accidents, and some of tragedy. But we will all die. Death is something scary that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. And honestly, I might talk more about it in a different blog. What I want to focus on in this post is more what we leave behind.
Hugh Hefner built an empire. He launched the adult and pornography industry to be what it is today. From having young women dress in bunny costumers working in a casino to having orgies being filmed, he crafted the adult industry to be one of the biggest industries in the world. He is an icon of adult entertainment. Or should I say, was. You see, all the money he made and the industry he built means nothing. When he died, he didn’t get to take his favorite Playboy bunny. He didn’t get to take any of his favorite videos, calendars, or pictures with him beyond the grave. Hefner built a legacy, but not all legacies are good. His legacy has been one of the main reasons men and women, girls and boys, are dealing with addiction to pornography, sexual promiscuity, sexual experimentation, self-image issues, broken marriages, and more. His legacy is one that became the gateway for sin to become normalized in our world through sex. Sex is a beautiful thing created by God for us to experience in marriage. Yet that was hijacked by Hefner and the many others who have built their kingdoms of this design. His death for me is very, very sad. His death to me is a reminder that not all people turn from their own way of living- unless that happened in his final moments (that is between him and God). His death to me is one that reminds me that I have work to do as a believer in the redemption of Jesus Christ. You see, Hefner could have been saved. He could have in his final breath had a “come to Jesus” moment. Even if he did, the only thing left behind is the memory of the way he lived: sexualizing and objectifying women and men through pornography. Left behind are the women in the mansion who were mere playthings. Left behind are the millions of porn addicts. Left behind are the broken marriages.
I also see people like the many heroes of the Las Vegas shooting…the people who stepped up and saved lives knowing that their own life might be lost. I don’t know their stories or even the number of people. But the idea is there that those people chose to put others first and love them before their self. Many of the survivors, if not all of them, will never be the same. Their lives are changed because of the shooting. I am sure we will see more stories to come.
My point friends is that we never know when our lives will end or how we will die. We don’t know and we cannot plan for it. But we can plan on two things: live with a certainty of eternity with Jesus Christ and living in a way to honor him. You see, we all build a kingdom of our own. We all live our lives. We make choices and intentional decisions. When we die, we will leave a legacy behind. We have the choice to live by building a kingdom not for ourselves, but one that reflects the heart of Jesus in the everyday. You see when we live for him, we love others well. When we live for him, we leave a legacy of love, compassion, truth, integrity, character, forgiveness, redemption, and more. We won’t be perfect. But I can tell you this, that when I die, however I die, I pray that people remember me not because of something I created or built, but how I lived and loved others. I don’t want to remembered for the great things I have done, my degrees, my accomplishments, my selfishness, my lust, my bad choices, my mistakes, or my failings. I am far from perfect. But I want to be remembered for more than any those things, good or bad. I have reconciled with the fact that I am in a dangerous career and there is a chance my end could come while doing my job. I reconciled that a long time ago when doing missions work as well. I want to live my life reflecting Jesus so well, that people see Him in me more than they see me. I want to love God with all that am and everything that I have so that when I die and meet my end, whenever that is, that I leave behind the greatest legacy of all: that Jesus came to redeem us all. So I ask you, look at your life. If met with eternity today, what kind of legacy would you leave?