I wish I could say my motive was legacy but I now know it was vanity.

As a young journalist I’d noticed articles reporting the death of local and national leaders appeared on the newspaper’s front page, above the fold, accompanied by a photo.

With the passion of youth and ego, I began pouring my life into organizations and activities to build an impressive obituary. I wanted a list of accomplishments to show my time here had significance.

A worthy motive, I thought. Years later, I saw the naked truth. My motive had nothing to do with significance—only pride.

A legacy worth imitating

As God began drawing me close, I learned he’s interested in one thing: following him wholeheartedly.

As God began drawing me close, I learned he’s interested in one thing: following him… Click To Tweet

My biblical friend Caleb carved a legacy worth imitating. One of twelve spies sent to explore Canaan, he agreed with Joshua that the Israelites could conquer the inhabitants and possess the land God had promised them. They based their confidence on the sheer word of God.

As the twelve returned from their mission, there must have been lively conversation about the report they’d give Moses. Caleb wasn’t tossing the details around in his mind. He’d made a decision long before putting one foot in Canaan. He’d set his mind and heart to seek and obey the Lord God, who had said it was their land. He decided in advance how he would live—trusting God’s promise, regardless of obstacles.

The scouts gave their report. The good news: it was a luscious land flowing with milk and honey. The bad news: the cities were fortified and the people powerful, giant-sized, making the Israelites seem like grasshoppers.

Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Power of discouragement

But the majority’s negative report discouraged the Israelites from going forward.

“The Lord’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.   The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the desert forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone” (Num. 32:10-13).

I studied the word wholeheartedly. According to Webster, it means completely and sincerely devoted, determined or enthusiastic; marked by complete earnest commitment; free from all reserve or hesitation.

Consider those related words. Devoted: ardently dedicated and loyal. Loyal: unswerving in allegiance. Unswerving: not turning aside, steady.

This gives us a clue to what following the Lord wholeheartedly looks like: completely and sincerely devoted to the Lord, determined and enthusiastic, earnest in commitment, without reserve or hesitation, devoted, ardently dedicated and loyal, unswerving in allegiance, not turning aside, steady.

Caleb got it

Although overruled, Caleb firmly established his legacy: he wholly followed the Lord.

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (Numbers 14:24).

“Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb son of Jephunneh, He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Deut. 1:35-36).

Caleb in his own words: “I…followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” Forty-five years after exploring Canaan, he reminded Joshua that Moses had sworn, “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” At eighty-five he received his inheritance (see Joshua 14:7-14).

God wants my whole heart—not most of it—and he continually searches to see if it’s wholly his.… Click To TweetGod wants my whole heart—not most of it—and he continually searches to see if it’s wholly his. He isn’t looking for perfection but surrender.

Lord, my desire is to follow you wholeheartedly. Keep my motive pure and turn my desire into reality.

What are your thoughts about your legacy? Has there been a clarifying moment when the Lord exposed selfish motives? Please comment below.

© 2018 Dianne Barker

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